3 groups will weigh clarification on Stryker
Native Hawaiian groups suing the Army to prevent the basing of a Stryker brigade in the islands are not satisfied with a federal judge's ruling last month allowing the unit's training to go forward, but they are holding off on appealing the decision.
Lawyers for three groups filed a motion earlier this month asking U.S. District Judge David Ezra to clarify his decision allowing the Army to train the unit in Hawaii in preparation for an expected deployment to Iraq early next year.
They say the Dec. 29 ruling is too ambiguous, allowing the Army to conduct training that could damage the environment and cultural sites.
"That clarity is important to the people of Hawaii so they'll know at this point what is allowed and what is prohibited," said David Henkin, a lawyer for Earthjustice, the organization representing the three Hawaiian groups. "And it's important to the Army to know what the ground rules are."
Henkin said his clients -- Ilioulaokalani Coalition, Na Imi Pono and Kipuka -- also want more detail before they decide whether to appeal.
Henkin filed the motion for clarification on Jan. 12. Ezra has given the Army until tomorrow to respond.
The plaintiffs' motion asks the judge to specify that live-fire training not be allowed at the Army's East Range and Kahuku Training Area.
The motion further requests that the judge remove the phrase "including, but not limited to," in parts of his ruling because they feel it is too ambiguous. "When an order is unclear about what is prohibited, there is always the risk that activities could proceed that should not," Henkin said.
The plaintiffs will have up to 60 days after Ezra's ruling on the clarification motion to decide whether to appeal the December decision, Henkin said.
Ezra's ruling addresses only what training the brigade may conduct to become combat-ready in time for an expected deployment to Iraq early next year. It does not give the Army permission to keep the Stryker brigade in Hawaii permanently.
The Army must conduct a full environmental study before the Stryker brigade can set up a long-term home here.
That is because the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in October that the Army violated federal law when it started setting up the brigade in Hawaii without conducting a thorough environmental impact study examining the effect the move would have on the islands.
The Army is preparing a full environmental statement comparing how suitable Hawaii and some mainland locations would be as Stryker hosts.
Five public meetings on Oahu and on the Big Island this week will allow residents to give their input. The Army says the public comments will be reflected in the impact statement.