In reaching its decision, the Ninth Circuit squarely rejected the Army's claims that stationing a Stryker brigade in Hawai'i was the only reasonable way for the Army to accomplish its national security goals. Noting that "[n]othing in the record distinguishes Hawaii from Alaska or Washington," where other Stryker brigades are located, the court determined the Army should have considered these "alternative locations where transformation of the 2nd Brigade could happen at potentially less detriment to the environment." The Ninth Circuit also dismissed the Army's assertion that Hawai'i's jungle terrain would provide unique training opportunities, since such rugged terrain is "unsuitable for Stryker Brigade training."
"The Ninth Circuit's decision is not only right on the law, but also makes good sense," explained David Henkin, an attorney for Earthjustice who represents the Native Hawaiian groups. "The court agreed that, before carrying out this environmentally destructive project, the Army was required first to look at other options to be sure that Hawai'i is the best place to for a Stryker brigade. This was not done. We're pleased that, finally, there is going to be full public disclosure in the SEIS about other, better places the Army can carry out this controversial project.
Under terms of a November 2004 agreement between the Army and the Native Hawaiian groups, the Ninth Circuit's ruling that the Army violated NEPA means the Army must cease all Stryker-related activities, including construction and Stryker training, until the court can rule on what activities, if any, will be allowed while an SEIS is prepared.
Read the decision online