Federal

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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. 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. 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

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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. 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. 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. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Center for Biological Diversity ("CBD") filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief under the Endangered Species Act, seeking protection for the Pacific fisher (a medium-sized brown mammal in the weasel family found only in North America). All parties moved for summary judgment. The CBD was the party that submitted the original petition to list this distinct population segment as endangered in 2000 (after various petitions were filed since 1990 with no action). In 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (the "Service") publicly proposed to list the Pacific fisher as threatened and sought public comment. In April 2016, the Service withdrew the proposed listing, finding that: populations will persist in the future; wildfires will have beneficial consequences; there "may be" breeding and interchange with other populations; and there were only a small number of confirmed deaths due to toxicosis from anticoagulant rodenticides. Plaintiffs now challenge that listing reversal as arbitrary and capricious, and seek an order requiring the Service to publish a new rule within 90 days based on “the best scientific and commercial data available." This court first examined the effect of anticoagulant rodenticides on the Pacific fisher. The court found the Service's assessment of the increase of the emerging threat from toxicosis was arbitrary and capricious, and that the Service "cherry picked" the Gabriel study to say that the study was uncertain. As to population trends, the court found that the Service based its conclusion on limited and inconclusive trend data and ignored the studies' conclusions. In fact, the court stated, "[h]ere, the absence of conclusive evidence of Pacific fisher persistence does not stand alone. The Service does not dispute that the Pacific fisher population has declined dramatically." In the end, the court granted plaintiff CBD motion for summary judgment and denied defendant Service's motion. The court directed the Service to prepare a new rule by March 22, 2019 (which denied plaintiff's motion for a 90-day rule and also denied the Service's request to "brief the timeline in order to evaluate staffing and budget constraints").
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, Defenders of Wildlife v. Kelly Plaintiffs brought an action against the Defendants, challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”)'s November 28, 2012 Final Rule designating 30,010 acres in Idaho and Washington as critical habitat for the southern Selkirk Mountains population of woodland caribou under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Specifically, plaintiffs alleged (1) that the Final Rule's critical habitat designation was arbitrary and capricious because the Defendants failed to explain how the limited amount of critical habitat designated was sufficient to recover this population of caribou and (2) that Defendants failed to provide public notice and comment on the substantially revised critical habitat designation before issuing the Final Rule. Defendants and Intervenors argued that the Final Rule satisfied the requirements of the ESA and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA").While the district court stated that the Final Rule's analysis seemed reasonably based on the best available science, it refused to make a conclusive determination on the arbitrary and capricious issue because procedural requirements necessitated a further public review and comment period. The court therefore found the error in this case was a procedural one resulting from the FWS failing to provide a period of public review and comment on the Final Rule's critical change in reasoning. The Court therefore remanded this matter to the FWS to cure the procedural error by affording the necessary public comment period and to consider anew the critical habitat designation in light of those comments.
Cetacean Cmty. v. President of the United States
Plaintiff, a community of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, sued Defendants, the President of the United States and the United States Secretary of Defense, alleging violations of the (NEPA), the (APA), the (ESA), and the (MMPA).  The Plaintffs were

concerned with the United States Navy's development and use of a low frequency active sonar (LFAS) system. The community alleged a failure to comply with statutory requirements with respect to LFAS use during threat and warfare conditions.

Cetacean Community v. Bush


In this case, the court was asked to decide whether the world's cetaceans have standing to bring suit in their own name under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.  The Cetaceans challenge the United States Navy's use of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active Sonar ("SURTASS LFAS") during wartime or heightened threat conditions.  In finding that the Cetaceans lacked standing, the court here agreed with the district court in Citizens to End Animal Suffering & Exploitation, Inc., that "[i]f Congress and the President intended to take the extraordinary step of authorizing animals as well as people and legal entities to sue, they could, and should, have said so plainly." 836 F.Supp. at 49.  In the absence of any such statement in the ESA, the MMPA, or NEPA, or the APA, the court concluded that the Cetaceans do not have statutory standing to sue.

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