Share this Post:

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Taking On The Military In Hawaii

    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Related Blog Entries

by David Henkin:
Era of Mortars and Artillery Shells Ends For Makua

The Army’s announcement in January that it is abandoning plans to resume the most destructive type of live-fire training at Makua Military Reser...

by David Henkin:
Defending a Species Paradise

Hawaiʻi has the dubious distinction as the endangered species capital of the world, with more imperiled species per square mile than any other pl...

by Ben Barron:
It Takes a Good Lawyer To Be a Good Steward

The idea that humans should come first when it comes to our relationship with the natural world traces back to the roots of western culture. For examp...

Earthjustice on Twitter

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
10 November 2009, 1:00 AM
Earthjustice attorney to tell U.N. about military's impact

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin is giving the keynote address this month at the United Nations Environmental Program workshop in Okinawa on the military and the environment. Here's a glimpse of what he will discuss:

What kind of work does Earthjustice do in the Mid-Pacific office?

Since Earthjustice opened the Mid-Pacific Office in Honolulu in 1988, we've represented environmental, Native Hawaiian and community organizations on a wide variety of matters. A large military presence and military training by its very nature threatens harm to the fragile ecosystems in the Pacific and the indigenous cultures that rely on them. We have been involved in several cases seeking to ensure the military complies with environmental laws, everything from protecting marine mammals from Navy sonar to ensuring Army training avoids pushing Hawai'i's critically imperiled species to extinction.

What will you focus on at the U.N. meeting?

I was invited to speak based on the success Earthjustice has had at the Army's Makua Military Reservation on O'ahu, securing protection from live-fire training for endangered plants and animals, compelling the Army to prepare a comprehensive environmental impact statement, and negotiating for clean-up of unexploded ordnance to increase opportunities for cultural access for Native Hawaiians to Makua's many sacred sites. I will address the tools available under American law to ensure the military carries out its planning and operations in an environmentally responsible manner, as well as suggesting ways to improve national and international laws that apply to the military.

Is the Department of Defense becoming more or less respectful of the environment?

It's less a question of "respect" than a realization on the military's part that the public is deeply concerned that training does not destroy the things that make Hawai'i special and that, if the military flouts our nation's environmental laws, it will be held to account. Earthjustice has played a major role both in elevating public awareness of military-related threats to the environment and in bringing litigation to compel the military's compliance with its legal duties.

What environmental laws are most often in dispute when the U.S. military is involved?

The whole gamut of environmental laws come into play. In the Makua litigation alone, Earthjustice has challenged the Army's failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Issues have also arisen regarding the National Historic Preservation Act due to threats to Makua's numerous cultural sites as well as the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, related to the disposal of munitions. In other cases, the Mid-Pacific Office has enforced the military's obligations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (Navy sonar) and Migratory Bird Treaty Act (bombing of nesting grounds in the Northern Marianas).

What is the proper balance between protecting the U.S. and protecting our environment?

It is vital to recognize that protecting our environment is protecting the U.S. Ensuring that we have clean air, water and land, that our natural ecosystems are functioning properly, and that we leave a healthy world for future generations are all paramount national interests that our military must seek to advance, not undermine.

The fact of the matter is that, while despoiling the environment is often more convenient (in military training as in business and other human undertakings), it will rarely be the case that an environmentally destructive undertaking is the only way to ensure the military is adequately trained. More than 20 years ago, Congress amended the Endangered Species Act to give the Secretary of Defense the authority to exempt the military from the law's requirements if complying with the law would endanger national security. That exemption has never been invoked. Environmentally responsible alternatives exist; it just requires a societal commitment to make sure they are implemented instead of more expedient, but more destructive, paths.


Very informative and trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it to a few friends of mine that I know would enjoy reading
omegle sohbet

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <p> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.