[Coral-List] Dean Jacobson, coral reefs, the law, NEPA, and the FAA

Walt Smith walt at waltsmith.com
Sat Mar 22 17:34:36 EDT 2014

Dear Listers,
Although this situation seems hopeless to control or influence the path
seems clear. The runway will be built.
In light of that unfortunate outcome has anyone suggested removing the coral
for purpose of replanting elsewhere? I know the immediate vicinity would be
a cloudy mess for many years to come and eventually some coral could settle
on the "walls" of the newly constructed runway that reaches out into the
sea. However, by replanting some (or most) of the unique corals on nearby
reefs or even a manmade reefs some species could be saved and prosper. Even
if done by the fragmentation process a positive result would be certain. I
have been replanting coral for over 16 years now in Fiji and know this is
possible based on a lot of my direct experiences.
This is just the kind of project that the FAA and/or our Federal Government
could invest in to coexist with the damage they are creating to both the
environment and their own public relations.
This is also the kind of project that could be headed by someone like Dean
who has intimate knowledge of the local reefs and (as it appears) now needs
a job. Just sayin.
Win-Win all around!
Walt Smith  

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Daniel Barshis
Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2014 7:55 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Dean Jacobson, coral reefs, the law, NEPA, and the

Dear Coral Listers,
     I, like many of you, have been following Dean's posts and wondering
what I can do to help. Last year, June-2013, Dean and I corresponded on this
issue with the FAA and he forwarded me a response from Ron Simpson, the FAA
Manager for the Honolulu Airports District Office. Dean felt that Mr.
Simpson was the US Federal contact that held the power to invoke US law
(NEPA, EIS, EIA, etc.) regarding the runway construction and reef mining
that Dean has been messaging about for the past few years. I felt like it
might serve this user group to see Mr. Simpson's message and hear a bit more
about the legal situation in hopes that we might be able to collectively
brainstorm on how best to address change in this particular instance.
Basically, since the RMI is a non-US country, the law is very vague about
whether NEPA is required to be applied. A 1994 publication by Smith (1994)
ABROAD, Natural Resources Journal, 34:751 summarizes a few cases where
organizations have tried, and failed, to require NEPA to be implemented
outside of the country. See the below response from Mr. Simpson which
basically says that RMI law was followed to the letter and absolves FAA from
any additional responsibility.
     I think this leaves us with no legal recourse to invoke NEPA, though
any law-minded listers might have some more productive suggestions. I think
that means we're in the court of public opinion, which means targeting
RMI-EPA, MIMRA, or even some US agencies to try and sway them towards taking
more of a stand for the reef might be our best option. As many have said,
Dean's been fighting the good fight for over 3 years now and I think it's
our duty to try and continue the fight and leverage what resources we can
towards convincing the agencies responsible for allowing the continued
dredging to pursue alternative mining options. I think the important thing
will be a targeted, organized effort so if those that have suggested certain
actions (e.g. facebooking RMI-EPA, etc.) can take the lead on organizing
these particular efforts and sustaining involvement that may be our best
chance for change.

From: "Ron.V.Simpson at faa.gov" <Ron.V.Simpson at faa.gov>
To: atolldino at yahoo.com
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 4:45 PM
Subject: Fw: Message from www.faa.gov: Mark McClardy

Dr. Jacobson,

Mr. Mark McClardy forwarded your 6/22/13 email to me and asked me to respond
to you concerning the Runway Safety Area (RSA) project that the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) is providing funding assistance in Majuro,
Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The FAA's mission is to provide the
safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.  In most parts of the
world we provide our technical expertise on aviation to help support our
mission.  In the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), we are also able to
provide federal funding in addition to our aviation expertise.
As an independent, sovereign nation, the RMI government followed its
environmental laws and completed an Environmental Impact Assessment and an
Environmental Management Plan both of which were reviewed and approved by
the RMI Environmental Protection Agency.  FAA reviewed documents submitted
by the RMI government under its environmental process.  In doing so, we
requested information on how they notified the public and were made aware of
at least two instances where public notification was completed.  I
understand your concerns and respectfully suggest that you work with the RMI
government to address them.


Ron Simpson, Manager,

FAA, Honolulu Airports District Office


  Daniel Barshis, Ph.D.
  Assistant Professor
  Department of Biological Sciences
  Old Dominion University
  Norfolk, VA 23529
  Office: 757-683-3614
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