Lawsuits abound

Jun 20, 2014

It’s nothing new that various environmental groups use the power of litigation to push their goals. But the frequency and sheer volume of lawsuits filed might come as a surprise.

During last week alone, the Center for Biologic Diversity (CBD)—just one of several groups that frequently employ the “sue and settle” tactic—announced six lawsuits and one legal petition against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and one lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. The lawsuits and the one legal petition against the USFWS all centered around the Endangered Species Act with the common theme between the lawsuits being “the agency’s failure to grant Endangered Species Act protection” to a variety of species.

The species ranged from a rare flying squirrel in California to a snail which is only known to exist in “10 square yards of mosses and cypress roots” in a single small spring in Florida. Five of the six lawsuits filed against the USFWS cited the unprecedented 2011 agreement between CBD and the USFWS to make decisions on 757 species by 2018. According to CBD, the agreement allows them to “push forward 10 decisions per year.” The five lawsuits mentioning the 2011 agreement concern species CBD has chosen for this year’s special attention.

The sixth lawsuit aimed at the USFWS regarded “inadequate protections” for the lesser prairie chicken. In April, the bird was listed as threatened rather than endangered. The legal petition urged the USFWS to expand its recovery range for the Californian grizzly bear. The one lawsuit filed against the EPA claims the agency hasn’t acted sufficiently to protect the public from lead in the air.