- 総合政策研究 (ISSN:1341996X)
- vol.28, pp.205-242, 2008-03
The day of January 23, 2008, turned out to be a memorable day for Okinawa dugongs. On this day, the Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, U.S. District Court Judge Northern District of California, ruled in favor of Okinawa dugongs in the case that was brought by 3 Okinawa individual residents and 6 Japan/U.S. environmental organizations against the U.S. Department of Defense (hereinafter "DOD") for the purpose of preserving Okinawa dugongs as a Japanese national monument and their habitats in Henoko areas. The court opinion begins with a comprehensive summary of the factual background, a description of the procedural history of the case, and an explanation of the statutes under which plaintiffs bring the case, that is, the National Historic Preservation Act (hereinafter "NHPA") and the Administrative Procedures Act (hereinafter "APA"). The judge then turns to the legal arguments. The legal issues here are divided into three sections: DOD's jurisdictional arguments; applicability of the NHPA; and the merits of the plaintiffs' NHPA claim. First, as for the DOD's jurisdictional arguments, they consist of five distinctive assertions; (1) final agency action, (2) standing, (3) ripeness, (4) act of state, (5) necessary and indispensable party. The judge addresses each of the five arguments that DOD presents for barring the court's review and strikes down all of them with detailed persuasive reasons. Secondly, regarding the applicability of the NHPA to the case, the NHPA imposes on DOD the obligation to "take into account" under sec.402 of the statute. This DOD's obligation is triggered when and where there is a federal undertaking outside the U.S., which may directly and adversely affect a property on the applicable country's equivalent of the National Register. These are issues of first impression for the courts in the context of extraterritorial provision of sec.402. Having decided in support of plaintiffs' arguments with regard to these legal issues, the court concluded that the NHPA is applicable to this case. Finally, the judge examines whether DOD has complied with its obligation under the NHPA to "take into account" the impacts on the dugongs. According to the court, the "take into account" process, at a minimum, must include (1) identification of protected property, (2) generation, collection, consideration, and weighing of information pertaining to how the undertaking will affect the historic property, (3) a determination as to whether there will be adverse effects or not adverse effects, and (4) if necessary, development and evaluation of alternatives or modifications to the undertaking that could avoid or mitigate the adverse effects. As a conclusion, the judge holds: "In sum, the current record reflects a failure by the DOD to comply with NHPA section 402. This failure constitutes agency action that is unreasonably delayed and unlawfully withheld as provided by the APA. Defendants have failed to produce, gather, and consider information necessary for taking into account the effects of the Futenma Replacement Facilities on the Okinawa dugong and for determining whether mitigation or avoidance measures are necessary and possible." Therefore, the court's "CONCLUSION", on the last page of its judgment is as follows: 1. Defendants have failed to comply with the requirements of the NHPA section 402, 16 U.S.C. sec.470a-2, and this failure to comply is agency action that is unreasonably delayed and unlawfully withheld, 5 U.S.C. sec. 706 (1). 2. Defendants are ordered to comply with NHPA section 402 and this case is held in abeyance until the information necessary for evaluating the effects of the FRF on the dugong is generated, and until defendants take the information into account for the purpose of avoiding or mitigate adverse effects to the dugong. 3. Defendants are ordered, within ninety (90) days of the date of this order, to submit to the court documentation describing what additional information is necessary to evaluate the impacts of the FRF on the dugong; from what sources, including relevant individuals, organizations, and government agencies, the information will be derived; what is currently known or anticipated regarding the nature and scope of Japan's environmental assessment and whether that assessment will be sufficient for meeting defendants' obligations under the NHPA; and identifying the DOD officials with authorization and responsibility for reviewing and considering the information for purposes of mitigation. 4. If plaintiffs desire to respond to this submission, they shall file their response within forty-five (45) days of the defendants' filing. At the end of this summary, it is worth noting the following warning which the court dared to make clear: "Satisfaction of defendants' obligation under section 402, therefore cannot be postponed until the eve of construction when defendants have made irreversible commitments making additional review futile or consideration of alternatives impossible." This is exactly why the NHPA requires the take into account process "prior to approval of an undertaking," at the time early in the planning stages of a federal undertaking when there is still a meaningful opportunity to consider adverse impact and mitigation measures.