Group Sues Feds for Slow Action on Species and Warming

The Center for Biological Diversity on Jan. 15 filed suit in a Washington, D.C. federal court against six federal agencies for refusing to develop nation-wide regulations to speed the recovery of endangered species and integrate global warming into all major federal decision-making processes.

The suit charges the Department of the Interior (including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management), Department of Commerce (including the National Marine Fisheries Service), Department of Agriculture (including the U.S. Forest Service), Department of Defense, Department of Transportation (including the Federal Highway Administration) and the Environmental Protection Agency with violating the Administrative Procedure Act for refusing to reply or respond to the Center for Biological Diversity’s Global Warming and Endangered Species Initiative petition filed in February 2007.

"Global warming is the fastest-growing threat to endangered species," said Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center and lawyer for the suit. "It is pushing hundreds of species, including the polar bear, walrus, black abalone, elkhorn coral, staghorn coral, American pika, Sonoran pronghorn, woodland caribou, and wolverine to extinction."

"We filed the Global Warming and Endangered Species Initiative in 2007 to jump-start the reinvention of federal conservation policy. The Bush administration ignored the petition. With this lawsuit, we provide the Obama administration with a legal platform to develop integrated, government-wide policies to speed the recovery of endangered species and limit the impact of global warming. We look forward to working with the new administration to resolve the suit and begin the hard work of turning the ship of state of around after eight years of stalling."

The petition requested the federal agencies develop regulations to:

• Review all threatened, endangered, and candidate species to determine which are threatened by global warming;

• Revise all federal recovery plans to ensure endangered species are able to adapt to a warming environment;

• Require all federal agencies to implement endangered species recovery plans;

• Review the global warming contribution of all federal projects and require mitigation of impacts on imperiled species;

• Provide technical and financial support to states, local governments, and American Indian tribes that voluntarily agree to implement recover plans;

• Require a final Endangered Species Act listing decision on all candidate species within five years; and

• Prohibit all federal actions and habitat conservation plans from appreciably reducing the likelihood of species’ recovery.

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