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Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


The issue in this case is whether the Endangered Species Act requires the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to complete formal designation of critical habitat for an endangered fish species , the threespine stickleback ("stickleback"), a small, scaleless freshwater fish, as an endangered species in 1970 under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), listed over thirty-five years ago. In 1990, the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") awarded CEMEX, Inc., a contract to mine fifty-six million tons of sand and gravel from a location in Los Angeles County's Soledad Canyon. Although the mining would not take place within the stickleback's habitat, the project involves pumping water from the Santa Clara River and could cause portions of the river to run dry periodically. Parts of the Santa Clara River commonly dry out during the summer season, trapping stickleback in isolated pools. The Center for Biological Diversity ("CBD") filed suit in 2002, claiming that the Service violated the ESA by failing to complete the designation of critical habitat for the stickleback. In affirming the lower court's decision, the Ninth Circuit, held that it was not arbitrary and capricious for the Service to decide not to designate critical habitat for the stickleback. The Service was not required to ensure compliance with federal and state laws before issuing an ITS (incidental take statement) to CEMEX, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in striking extra-record exhibits offered to establish a new rationale for attacking the Service's decision.

Center For Biological Diversity v. Scarlett


Plaintiffs Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, Sierra Club, John Muir Project, Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife move for an award of attorney fees and costs pursuant to § 11(g)(4) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 USC § 1540(g)(4), in connection with their efforts to have the California spotted owl listed as endangered. The Court denied the Center's motion



for attorney fees because they failed to realize the goals of their lawsuit.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar


Plaintiffs filed action against Interior and FWS to set aside FWS's finding that the desert bald eagle does not qualify as a distinct population segment (“DPS”) entitled to protection under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Plaintiff's motions for summary judgment was granted. The Court found that FWS' 12–month finding was based on the 2007 delisting rule, which failed to comport with the notice, comment, and consultation requirements of the ESA. The Court set aside the 12–month finding as an abuse of discretion.


Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton


This lawsuit arises out of the Fish and Wildlife Service's ("FWS") designation of approximately 30% of the critical habitat originally proposed for the Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida ) under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA").  In analyzing the FWS's decision under both the standard of review for the APA and the deference afforded by the

Chevron

standard, the court found that the FWS's interpretation of "critical habitat" was "nonsensical."  It is not determinative whether the habitat requires special management, but, pursuant to the ESA, it is whether the habitat is "essential to the conservation of the species" and special management of that habitat is possibly necessary.   Thus, defendant's interpretation of the ESA received no deference by the court and the court found defendant's application of the ESA unlawful, as Defendant and FWS have been repeatedly told by federal courts that the existence of other habitat protections does not relieve Defendant from designating critical habitat.  The court found that the FWS's Final Rule violated both the ESA and the APA in implementing its regulations.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Morgenweck


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service completed a review of an environmental group petition that requested the Yellowstone cutthroat trout be listed as an endangered species.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service refused to list the fish as an endangered species and the environmental group brought an action to set aside the agency's findings.  The District Court held in favor of the environmental group reasoning the agency's rejection of the petition was arbitrary and capricious and the review of the petition was not conducted properly.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Lubchenco


In this civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief, the court found that Defendants did not violate the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) in failing to list the ribbon seal as threatened or endangered due to shrinking sea ice habitat essential to the species’ survival. Defendants did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in concluding that the impact of Russia’s commercial harvest on the ribbon seal was low, that 2050 was the “foreseeable future” due to uncertainty about global warming and ocean acidification farther into the future, or its choice of scientific and commercial data to use. The Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and granted Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Lohn


This case questions whether the federal government's policy for listing killer whales under the Endangered Species Act is invalid. The Fish and Wildlife Service initially issued a proposed ruling that listing the Southern Resident was “not warranted” because the Southern Resident was not “significant” to its taxon. The district court set aside the Service's “not warranted” finding, and ordered the Service to reexamine whether the Southern Resident should be listed as an endangered species and to issue a new finding within twelve months. After again being challenged by plaintiff, the Service issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered (as opposed to threatened) species. The Service contends that this case is now moot because it has, since the district court's decision, issued a proposed rule that recommended listing the Southern Resident as a threatened species and ultimately has issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered species. This court agreed, and thus vacated the district court's order and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the case as moot.

Center For Biological Diversity v. Lohn


In this case, the court is asked to decide whether the federal government's policy for listing killer whales under the Endangered Species Act is invalid. The Center for Biological Diversity, along with eleven co-petitioners not parties to this appeal, petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the Southern Resident killer whale as an endangered species under the ESA. Initially, the Service issued a proposed ruling based on its DPS policy that concluded listing the Southern Resident was “not warranted” because the Southern Resident was not “significant” to its taxon. After the Center challenged this action, the district court set aside the Service's “not warranted” finding because it failed to utilize the best available scientific data when determining whether the Southern Resident was “significant” under that policy. Pursuant to the district court's order, the Service reexamined the listing petition and issued a proposed rule that recommended listing the Southern Resident as a threatened species. The Center appealed, and the Service issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as endangered (as opposed to threatened). The Service contends that this case is now moot because it has ultimately issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered species. This court agreed, finding that declaring the DPS Policy unlawful would serve no purpose in this case because the Service has listed the Southern Resident as an endangered species, the Center's ultimate objective.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne



Cross motions for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ claim against Defendants, the


Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, alleging that the Secretary’s failure to designate critical habitat and prepare a recovery plan for the jaguar was unlawful under the ESA.

 

The United States District


Court, D. Arizona granted Plaintiffs’ motion in part and denied Plaintiffs’ motion in part, finding that Defendants’ determination that designation of a critical habitat would not be prudent must be set aside because it did not appear to be based on the best scientific evidence available as required by the ESA, and that Defendants’ determination not to prepare a recovery plan must also be set aside and remanded for further consideration because the determination was inconsistent with Defendants’ own policy guidance and long-standing practice concerning the distinction between foreign and domestic species.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne



In an action alleging multiple violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) pursuant to Defendants’ final rule designating the polar bear as threatened and promulgation of a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA, Defendants Kempthorne and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service brought a motion to transfer the case to the


United States District

Court

for the District of Columbia, Intervenor-Defendant Arctic Slope Regional Corporation brought a separate motion to transfer the case to the District of Alaska, and Intervenor-Defendant Alaska Oil and Gas Association filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL Panel) seeking to transfer the case to the D.C. District

Court

.

 

The United States District Court, N.D. California denied the motion to transfer the case to the District of Alaska, and decided to take the motion to transfer to the District of Columbia into submission and rule on it once the MDL Panel has issued its decision on whether to transfer the case to the District of Columbia.

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