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Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Proposed Changes to ESA Assessed by Feds

October 31, 2008 9:22 AM | Posted by Brittany Summers | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The Interior and Commerce Departments issued a draft report that assesses the environmental impact of several proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed changes, which affect the interagency consultation process under the ESA, are intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the process and provide clarity to existing regulatory provisions. 

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EPA Argues Against ESA Review

October 16, 2008 3:52 PM | Posted by Brittany Summers | Topic(s): Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies have responded to concerns that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) might be used to prevent projects that would emit greenhouse gases (GHG). Some critics have feared that the recent addition of the polar bear as a "threatened species" would enable opponents to argue that a project’s GHG emissions and resulting climate change would jeopardize the critical habitat of the polar bear and other species. 

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Settlement Reached on Polar Bears

October 7, 2008 10:58 AM | Posted by Patrick Greissing | Topic(s): Litigation, Endangered Species Act (ESA)

A settlement reached in federal court in California will require the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for polar bears.  Habitat protections for the polar bears must be finalized within two years under the settlement.  The settlement is a piece of a larger lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resource Defense Council and Greenpeace.  That suit is expected to be heard early next year.

Industry Organizations File Motion to Intervene in Polar Bear Lawsuit

September 17, 2008 9:06 AM | Posted by Trudy Daly | Topic(s): Endangered Species Act (ESA)

A number of industry organizations (the “Association”), including the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the National Mining Association (NMA), have filed a motion to intervene in a pending lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) against the Secretary of the Department of the Interior (Secretary) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  

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Pacific Legal Foundation Challenges Polar Bear Listing

July 31, 2008 1:54 PM | Posted by Max Zygmont | Topic(s): Litigation, Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Yesterday, the nation’s leading legal watchdog for property rights, Pacific Legal Foundation, announced their intent to sue the federal government over its May 2008 decision to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

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Environmental Groups Intend to Sue Interior Over Polar Bear Protection

June 11, 2008 11:48 AM | Posted by ben.snowden@alston.com | Topic(s): Litigation, Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Environment plan to sue the Department of Interior over its failure to protect the polar bear, which on May 15 was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The groups sent the 60-day notice of their intent to sue to the Minerals Management Service, a division of the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Monday.

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Environmental Groups File Suit over "Threatened" Listing

May 20, 2008 1:33 PM | Posted by Patrick Greissing | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Litigation, Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Last week, when the Interior Department declared the polar bear as a "threatened" species, it was clear that legal action would soon follow.  As part of the "threatened" listing, the Interior Department also declared they would not allow the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.  It is this part of the ruling that has environmental groups taking the Bush administration to court.  Among the groups that have filed suit over the polar bear listing as "threatened" are the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resource Defense Council and Greenpeace.  Kassie Siegel, from the Center for Biological Diversity, said, "The Endangered Species Act requires the government to identify and then eliminate threats to a species. The administration's attempt to create an exemption for greenhouse gas emissions, the primary threat to the polar bear, violates both logic and the law."

Polar Bears Declared Threatened

May 15, 2008 4:39 PM | Posted by Patrick Greissing | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Yesterday, the Interior Department declared the polar bear a threatened species.  The Interior Department blames a decrease in sea ice for the species' decline.  Some people might try to use this ruling as evidence of a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, however, quickly squashed that idea.  He said, "Listing the polar bear as threatened can reduce avoidable losses of polar bears. But it should not open the door to use the ESA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants and other sources. That would be a wholly inappropriate use of the Endangered Species Act. ESA is not the right tool to set U.S. climate policy." 

The decision to declare the polar bear threatened had a wide range of reactions on the Hill.  In a statement Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) said, "Unfortunately, the decision to list the polar bear as ‘threatened’ appears to be based more on politics than science….It’s disappointing that Secretary Kempthorne failed to stand up to liberal special interest groups who advocated this listing."  The view from the other side of the aisle was obviously different—Sen. Boxer (D-CA) said, "The listing of the polar bear as ‘threatened' is long overdue, and once again, it took intervention by the courts to force the Bush Administration to obey the law and begin the process of protecting these magnificent creatures . . . Today's announcement underscores how important it is for the Senate to pass national legislation to cut global warming pollution and avert the dangerous effects of climate change."

To read the complete statements from both Senators, go to: http://epw.senate.gov/public/

First Steps Taken in Polar Bear Litigation

January 10, 2008 2:41 PM | Posted by kristin.jones@alston.com | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Litigation, Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Yesterday the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council served their 60 day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its failure to proceed with a listing decision for the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. A final listing decision from Fish and Wildlife was due today, but agency officials indicated earlier this week that they would miss the deadline, citing the large volume of public comments – over 600,000 – received on the agency's proposal to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the ESA.  The polar bear case includes the federal government's first consideration of climate change as a factor in making a listing determination under the ESA.