U.S. District Court Rules Against ESA

Leeona Klippstein, Spirit of the Sage Council (910) 947-5091, (626) 676-4116
Jon Lovvorn, Humane Society of U.S. (202) 955-3669

D.C. District Court Rules Against Endangered Species Recovery

Conservation Plans Nationwide Allow Permits To
Kill & Destruction of Millions of Acres

On Thursday afternoon, Judge Emmett Sullivan,
D.C. District Court, released his Decision and
Order regarding the most controversial legal
challenges to the federal Endangered Species Act
(Spirit of the Sage Council, et al. v. U.S.
Interior Secretary Kempthorne).

For over decade, several nonprofit conservation
groups, led by Spirit of the Sage Council have
filed numerous lawsuits against the U.S.
Secretary of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife
Service and National Marine Fisheries Service
over Rule Makings that effect hundreds of various
endangered species. The two federal Rules are
referred to as No Surprises and Permit
Revocation. Each Rule are vital aspects in how
federal government agencies implement the
Endangered Species Act.

The Sage Council, including the Humane Society of
the U.S., contended that the No Surprises Rule
was in violation of the Act and prevented the
recovery of endangered species that the Services
were issuing Incidental Take Permits for. No
Surprises gives an assurance to nonfederal
landowners that once a permit is issued to them,
the federal government will not ever require them
to provide additional conservation habitat or
measures. Sage Council contended that this sort
of permit guarantee could effect a species
ability to recover if it was found that a Habitat
Conservation Plan was inadequate to where species
were declining in numbers. Since 1994, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service has approved over 500
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) with Incidental
Take Permits, including No Surprises guarantees,
that impact over THIRTY-NINE MILLION HABITAT
ACRES.

“While the American public has been sleeping and
lulled by the idea that the Endangered Species
Act protects our nation’s plants and wildlife,
the reality is that a biodiversity time-bomb has
exploded.” Said Leeona Klippstein, Executive
Director of the Sage Council. “Yes, a tree does
fall in the forest when you can’t hear it! In
this case, hundreds of various rare and
endangered species are being killed and millions
of habitat acres gone through so-called Habitat
Conservation Plans that are created for the sole
purpose of allowing development, timber, mining
industries to continue on and profit. It’s the
loophole exemption in the law that acts as a
noose on biodiversity.”í®

Interveners of the lawsuit, supporting the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries
use of No Surprises in Incidental Take Permits,
included numerous building and timber industry
interests. Defendant’s contended that Section 10
of the Act, Habitat Conservation Plans and
Incidental Take Permits only had to meet survival
standards, otherwise referred to jeopardy.í®

Ruling in favor of the defendant government
agencies, Judge Sullivan’s decision presumed,
“that the Services will faithfully execute their
duties” when they determine whether the
conditions of the Incidental Take Permits are not
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of
any listed species. Judge Sullivan’s decision
runs counter to other recent court decisions of
other districts.

“If Incidental Take Permits are to be permitted
to undercut the recovery of endangered species,
then it is vitally important that Congress
revisit this provision of the Act — the whole
idea beyond this amendment to the statute was to
allow the rare taking of an already extremely
imperiled species, in exchange for a guarantee
that the taker would do something to protect the
species as a whole – a meaning that has been
completely forsaken by the FWS and the district
opinion” stated Katherine Meyer of the D.C.
public interest law office, Meyer, Glitzenstein &
Crystal.

In California (Southwest Center for Biological
Diversity v. Bartel, 2006 )and Alabama (Sierra
Club v. Babbitt, 1998), District Courts upheld
that a Habitat Conservation Plans and Incidental
Take Permits have to provide for species recovery
as defined by the word “conservation.” Judge
Sullivan reasoned that the other district courts
had made their decisions without “closely
scrutinizing” the text of Section 10 of the
Endangered Species Act. Judge Sullivan stated,
“Thus, while applicants must submit a
“conservation” plan, the statutory text makes
clear that the ITPs [permits to kill] can be
granted even if doing so threatens recovery of a
listed species. To the extent that there is a
conflict between the general definition of
“conservation” and the specific criteria in [the
law], the “specific statutory language should
control more general language when there is a
conflict between the two.” (quoting Nat’l Cable &
Telecomm. Ass’n, Inc. v. Gulf Power Co., 2002).

Whether the Sage Council will appeal the D.C.
District Court decision or not is presently being
considered. “This is, undoubtedly, the biggest
and most important endangered species case in
history. The recovery of endangered species is
vital to life on Earth. The loss and paving over
of more than 39 million acres of habitat and
vegetation is detrimental to not only the
species, but to the Earth’s climate. I can only
pray that all those millions of people that went
to Live Earth concerts on Global Warming will
throw their support behind the Sage Council to
continue our fight for endangered species and the
Earth. We will be discussing an appeal with our
legal counsel at Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal.
My feeling is that we could win at the Court of
Appeals.” stated Klippstein.

________________________________________________________________________

——————-
“The Bush administration has tried to keep a lid on its growing
endangered species scandal by scapegoating Julie MacDonald,” said
Suckling, “but the corruption goes much deeper than one disgraced
bureaucrat. It reaches into the White House itself through the Office
of Management and Budget.”
——————————————

Environmental news service
August 30, 2007

Enviros Threaten Legal Action on Behalf of 55 Endangered Species

TUCSON, Arizona — The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a
formal notice of intent to sue the Department of the Interior for
political interference with 55 endangered species in 28 states. The
notice initiates the largest substantive legal action in the 34 year
history of the Endangered Species Act.

At stake in the suit is the illegal removal of one animal from the
endangered species list, the refusal to place three animals on the
list, proposals to remove or downgrade protection for seven animals,
and the stripping of protection from 8.7 million acres of critical
habitat for a long list of species from Washington State to Minnesota
and Texas.

“This is the biggest legal challenge against political interference
in the history of the Endangered Species Act,” said Kieran Suckling,
policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

“It puts the Bush administration on trial at every level for
systematically squelching government scientists and installing a
cadre of political hatchet men in positions of power,” he said.

Many of the decisions at issue were engineered by Julie MacDonald,
the former deputy assistant secretary of the interior who resigned in
disgrace following a scathing investigation by the inspector general
of misconduct at the Department of the Interior.

Other decisions challenged in this lawsuit were ordered by
MacDonald’s boss, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson,
his special assistant Randal Bowman, and Ruth Solomon in the White
House Office of Management and Budget. Some decisions were ordered by
lower-level bureaucrats, the group claims.

“The Bush administration has tried to keep a lid on its growing
endangered species scandal by scapegoating Julie MacDonald,” said
Suckling, “but the corruption goes much deeper than one disgraced
bureaucrat. It reaches into the White House itself through the Office
of Management and Budget.”

“By attacking the problem systematically through this national
lawsuit, we will expose just how thoroughly the distain for science
and for wildlife pervades the Bush administration’s endangered
species program,” he said.

In many of the cases, government and university scientists documented
the editing of scientific documents, overruling of scientific
experts, and falsification of economic analyses.

Among the 55 species in the legal filing are the marbled murrelet, a
seabird that nests on land in California, Oregon and Washington; the
Florida manatee found in waters from South Carolina to Texas; the
Arctic grayling, a fish found in Montana waters; and the West
Virginia northern flying squirrel.

Some of the other species on the legal filing are the California
least tern; the California red-legged frog and the arroyo toad that
also inhabits California; the Mexican garter snake found in Arizona;
the brown pelican found in Louisiana, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S.
Virgin Islands; the piping plover, a bird found from North Carolina
to Texas; and the Preble’s jumping meadow mouse that still survives
in Colorado and Wyoming.

Major Wildfires On Canary Islands

EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
31 July 2007
Tenerife, Canary Islands

Fires on Canary Islands force thousands to flee

More than 11 000 people have been evacuated from two of Spain’s Canary Islands – Tenerife and Gran Canaria – as firefighters try to get the blazes under control, according to local authorities.

Fires have burned some 14 000 hectares on the western part of Tenerife since Monday, while some 10 000 hectares of woodland in the southwest of Gran Canaria have been charred since Friday, Paulino Rivero, head of the regional government, said.

Winds of 65 kilometers per hour and temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius have hampered efforts to smother the blazes, authorities told the Associated Press.

There are seven islands in the Canary Island archipelago, located some 95 kilometers from the northwest coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. Tenerife is the biggest island in the region, while Gran Canaria is the most populated.

Direct Actions at UK Camp for Climate Action a resounding success!

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The 24 hours of direct action against climate change which began on Sunday 19th August at noon has culminated in a flurry of direct actions throughout England. As previously stated, none of the actions were intended to disrupt passengers, but instead, targeted the corporations who profit from climate chaos. Meanwhile, the mass siege of BAA national headquarters has forced its closure for the day. Pictures

During the week there have been over 71 arrests and a dozen actions, covering a broad range of issues.

Find below details of all the actions throughout the week…

Sunday the 19th and Monday the 20th August

Carbon offset companies were occupied by protesters dressed as red herrings. Fifteen have occupied the offices of Climate Care in Oxford. Ten have leafleted the offices of the Carbon Neutral Company in London. Carbon offsetting is a scheme allowing companies and consumers to pay in order to supposedly neutralize their carbon emissions. ‘Carbon offsets are ineffective, based on dubious science and lead people to believe they are helping when they are not – the concept and the practice are a con,’ said Sophie Nathan, who is taking part in the Carbon Neutral Company action.

Five protesters are in a concrete lock-on outside Sizewell A and B nuclear power stations. Their banner declares, ‘Nuclear power is not the answer to climate chaos.’ Twelve protesters have superglued themselves to the entrance at BP headquarters. They are highlighting BPs essential role in the aviation industry. Protester Stanley Owen said ‘We cannot sustain infinite growth on a planet with finite resources.’ Eighteen protesters occupied the office of the owners of Leeds airport, Bridgepoint Capital, on Warwick Street in London.

In Harmondsworth village a group of 500, consisting of locals as well as climate camp participants, gathered to listen John McDonnell Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington. He told the government that the third runway will not be built:

‘Even with the latest, more efficient aircraft, the climate change imperative demands that air travel growth be severely curtailed. The government can no longer have its cake and eat it. If it’s genuinely serious about climate change it must show meaningful leadership to rein in aviation expansion.’

Protesters wore copies of the Tyndall Report on their hands during the mass action, carrying a banner reading, ‘We are armed….only with peer-reviewed science’.

Late on Sunday evening, BA World Cargo depot was blockaded for about four and a half hours by eight protestors locked to each-other.

Saturday 18 August

Children and their parents blockade the World Freight Centre at Heathrow in protest at the damage to the climate caused by unnecessarily flying food around the world.

60 people occupy Carmel Agrexco’s Heathrow warehouse in Hayes, where produce is air freighted in from territories occupied by Israel, highlighting the issues of food miles and the unjust and unlawful distribution of natural resources in the Middle East.

Friday 17 August

The doors of six London travel agencies are chained shut and plastered with signs saying ‘Closed, gone to the Climate Camp.’ Ten people occupy the office of private charter company XL, which has a contract with the Home Office to deport rejected asylum seekers, exposing the connection between climate change and forced migration.

Activists superglue themselves to the front doors of the Department for Transport’s London headquarters. A tourist spontaneously joins the protest by chaining himself to the doors.

Thursday 16 August

Farnborough and Biggin Hill airports, both exclusively used by private executive jets, are blockaded by two teams of climate activists in disgust at the obscenity of the super-rich using planes as a taxi service.

Wednesday 13 August

A group of activists set up a climate camp on the wing of an Airbus A380 on its way to be assembled in France, pledging to stay until government ministers come up with a ‘safe’ aviation policy.

Dr. James Hansen speaks on reticence within the climate-science community

————————————————————-
“Reticence is fine for the IPCC. And individual scientists can
choose to stay within a comfort zone, not needing to worry
that they say something that proves to be slightly wrong. But
perhaps we should also consider our legacy from a broader
perspective. Do we not know enough to say more?”

“Almost four decades ago Eipper (1970), in a section of his
paper titled ‘The Scientist’s Role’, provided cogent advice and
wisdom about the responsibility of scientists to warn the public
about the potential consequences of human activities. Eipper
recognized sources of scientific reticence, but he concluded
that scientists should not shrink from exercising their rights as
citizens and responsibilities as scientists.”
————————————————–

ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS
Environ. Res. Lett. 2 (2007) 024002 (6pp) doi:10.1088/1748-9326/2/2/024002

Scientific reticence and sea level rise
J E Hansen
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2880
Broadway, New York, NY 10025, USA

Received 23 March 2007
Accepted for publication 3 May 2007
Published 24 May 2007
Online at stacks.iop.org/ERL/2/024002

Abstract
I suggest that a ‘scientific reticence’ is
inhibiting the communication of a threat of a
potentially large sea level rise. Delay is dangerous because
of system inertias that could create a situation
with future sea level changes out of our control.
I argue for calling together a panel of scientific
leaders to hear evidence and issue a prompt
plain-written report on current understanding of
the sea level change issue.

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