Native Hawaiian organizations ‘Ïlio’ulaokalani Coalition, Na ‘Imi Pono, and Kïpuka, represented by Earthjustice, today filed in the United States District Court for the District of Hawai’i a motion to intervene in a condemnation action the United States Department of the Army initiated on September 22, 2004, to acquire 1,400 acres of Campbell Estate land as part of the Army’s plan to transform the 2nd Brigade of the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division (Light) into a brigade built around the Stryker armored vehicle. The Hawaiian organizations seek to challenge a settlement filed on September 24, 2004, in which the Army and Campbell Estate agreed to a $15.9 million payment for the condemned land.
Last month, the Hawaiian organizations filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the Army to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and consider in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) locations besides Hawai’i before proceeding with any Stryker-related actions. The Hawaiian Groups and Army have been in negotiations over whether the Army would voluntarily refrain from going forward with the land acquisition pending resolution of the Hawaiian organizations’ lawsuit. Yet, even as those negotiations continued, the Army filed its condemnation action to acquire the land for Stryker transformation last Wednesday and, a mere two days later, had the court-approved settlement filed. The Hawaiian Groups found out about the settlement only after its filing, at the end of the day Friday afternoon.
“The law requires the Army to do a bona fide analysis of alternatives before committing to any course of action,” said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. “How can the Army genuinely consider alternate locations when it’s committing millions of dollars to transformation in Hawai’i?” Henkin added that the Army’s resolve to rush the settlement without giving notice or opportunity to respond to the Hawaiian organizations “sends entirely the wrong message.”
Citizens commenting during the EIS process for the Hawai’i Stryker transformation, including the Hawaiian organizations, had repeatedly asked the Army to consider alternatives to its proposed action, including moving the 2nd Brigade to locations on the mainland to undergo transformation. The EIS completely ignored these requests, even while acknowledging that significant, unavoidable impacts to cultural resources, native ecosystems, endangered species, air quality, recreation, noise levels, and soils would result.
“The Army’s actions just confirm what we saw throughout the EIS process,” said William Aila of Na `Imi Pono. “The Army couldn’t care less what Native Hawaiians or the people of Hawai’i think. They’re the Army and they’re marching ahead, or, in this case, over us.”