Largest-ever Endangered Species Act lawsuit filed


An environmental group plans the largest ever legal action in the history of the Endangered Species Act.

Largest-ever Endangered Species Act lawsuit filed

Largest-ever Endangered Species Act lawsuit filed

August 29, 2007

An environmental group plans the largest ever legal action in the history of the Endangered Species Act.

Wednesday the Center for Biological Diversity said it would sue the Department of the Interior over 55 endangered species in 28 states and seek restoration of 8.7 million acres of protected habitat stripped by government actions.

“This is the biggest legal challenge against political interference in the history of the Endangered Species Act,” said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It puts the Bush administration on trial at every level for systematically squelching government scientists and installing a cadre of political hatchet men in positions of power.”

Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in Glacier Bay

The group says that many of the decisions were engineered by former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Julie MacDonald, who resigned in following a embarrassing investigation by the inspector general of misconduct at the Department of the Interior. MacDonald was accused of overruling of scientific experts and allowing industry lobbyists to illegally review internal documents.

“The Bush administration has tried to keep a lid on its growing endangered species scandal by scapegoating Julie MacDonald,” said Suckling, “but the corruption goes much deeper than one disgraced bureaucrat. It reaches into the White House itself through the Office of Management and Budget. By attacking the problem systematically through this national lawsuit, we will expose just how thoroughly the distain for science and for wildlife pervades the Bush administration’s endangered species program.”

Among the 55 species in the legal filing are the marbled murrelet (CA, OR, WA), Florida manatee (SC to TX), Arctic grayling (MT), West Virginia northern flying squirrel (WV), California least tern (CA), brown pelican (LA, TX, PR, VI), California red-legged frog (CA), arroyo toad (CA), Mexican garter snake (AZ), piping plover (NC to TX), snowy plover (CA, OR, WA) and Preble’s jumping meadow mouse (CO, WY).

California had the most affected species with 24, followed by Texas (16) and New Mexico (9).

The Center for Biological Diversity says that in many of the cases, “government and university scientists carefully documented the editing of scientific documents, overruling of scientific experts, and falsification of economic analyses.”


‘Reign of terror’ over Fish and Wildlife Service ends with resignation
Julie A. MacDonald, the deputy assistant secretary at the Interior Department who riled environmentalists by seeking to gut the endangered species act, has resigned. The resignation comes a month after MacDonald was rebuked for illegally distributing internal agency documents to industry lobbyists.

Legal ruling may put endangered species at greater risk
In a letter sent Monday to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the House Committee on Natural Resources, they warn that the new definition—spelled out in a legal opinion from the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior in March—will substantially weaken the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.


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