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Tinian Women Ass'n v. United States Department of the Navy

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20215
Nos. 18-16723, (9th Cir., 09/18/2020)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the U.S. Navy in a challenge to its decisions to relocate troops from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam and construct training facilities on the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Environmental groups argued the Navy's decisions were "connected actions" that must be assessed in a single EIS and that the Navy violated NEPA's mandate that an EIS must consider cumulative impacts. The court found that although the two decisions had overlapping goals—troops on Guam would take advantage of the training ranges and facilities in the CNMI—they also had independent utility and thus were not connected for purposes of an EIS. Further, by issuing a notice of intent to prepare an EIS for the training ranges in the CNMI, the Navy "impliedly promised" to consider the cumulative effects of the subsequent action in the future EIS, and thus its deferral of consideration of the cumulative impacts to a future EIS was not error. The court therefore affirmed summary judgment for the Navy.