Monday, January 7, 2013

In Re: Endangered Species Act Section 4

Jan 4: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, Case No. MDL No. 2165. Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The Appeals Court summarizes saying the Center for Biological Diversity and the WildEarth Guardians sued to compel the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (together, the Service) to comply with deadlines set forth in the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1533(b)(3), for determining whether to list species as endangered or threatened. As the cases neared settlement, the Safari Club International (Safari Club) moved to intervene pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 in order to oppose the settlements which would include three species that its members hunt. The district court denied intervention and approved the settlement agreements. The Appeals Court indicated, "On appeal, the Safari Club contends it qualified for intervention as of right, as well as permissively." The Appeals Court affirmed the district court denial. 
    The Appeals Court rules in part, ". . .the basis for the Safari's Club's motion for permissive intervention is the same as that for intervention as of right. To that extent the questions are 'inextricably intertwined.' It remains, however, an open question in this circuit whether Article III standing is required for permissive intervention. . .
    "If standing is required, then the Safari Club could not succeed on this theory, for the reasons discussed in Part II. If it is not, then the Safari Club would need to show that the district court abused its discretion in concluding that allowing the Safari Club to intervene this late in the settlement process would cause undue delay and prejudice by forcing the Service to continue to litigate instead of working to meet the agreed upon schedule in the settlement agreements, thereby consuming scarce resources and jeopardizing the settlements. Section 4 Deadline Litig., 277 F.R.D. at 8–9. This court has long acknowledged the 'wide latitude afforded' to district courts under Rule 24(b). National Children's Center, 146 F.3d at 1046 (internal citations omitted). 'In view of this unresolved standing issue, however, we think it inappropriate to exercise our pendant jurisdiction.' In re Vitamins, 215 F. 3d at 32. . . Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the district court without reaching the Safari Club's objections to the settlement agreements."
    Mark Salvo, Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians said in a release, "This is the right decision, and we are thankful for the Court's opinion. The decision preserves an effective, efficient, progressive settlement agreement that is already working to protect and recover endangered species."

    WildEarth Guardians indicated that the settlement agreement, approved by the District Court in September 2011, requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to address 252 candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act before the end of FY 2016. The agreement has already resulted in 54 new species listings and the designation of 94,689 acres and 2,032 stream miles of critical habitat to support their recovery. These include a suite of freshwater mussels in Alabama and Florida, a large number of Hawaiian species, and three plants threatened by energy development in Colorado.

    Access the complete opinion (click here). Access a release from WildEarth Guardians (click here). [#Wildlife, #CADC]
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