Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bull Report: Sue, Settle, and Sue Again

Washington, D.C. (August 24th, 2016)The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is approaching the end of a five year, 757 species work plan dictated by a court order drafted behind closed doors because of lawsuits brought by litigation happy groups like the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). Now the CBD is threatening to sue again on an additional 417 species, including 87 plants and 235 invertebrates such as snails, mussels, and beetles. The FWS had hoped the 2011 settlement would finally relieve them of the endless litigation it has faced since 2007, but it has only emboldened the CBD and other serial litigants.

The CBD has mastered its bullying tactics to the point where it now has full control over federal endangered species policy. The playbook is clear—flood the agency with petitions to list as many species as can be found under every rock and in every crevice, and then sue when the FWS is unable to meet rigid, artificial deadlines under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for reviewing those petitions. This time, the CBD is cutting right to the chase, demanding that the FWS negotiate with them and them alone to set policy for the next several years. And if FWS refuses they will face a massive lawsuit with no chance of winning. Once a bully gets what they want the first time, what’s to stop them from coming back again and again?

These sue and settle tactics do nothing to actually recover species, which the FWS has accomplished for less than two percent of the species on the endangered list. The CBD playbook serves only to drive the ESA through courtrooms instead of driving recovery through science and the on-the-ground conservation practitioners working to balance the needs of species and people.  For this, we give the CBD four bulls, with an honorable mention to the Obama Administration for failing to recognize the need for ESA improvements to bring the law into the 21st Century.

Press Release

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