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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.


Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.


Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« Regarding listing decision for polar bear, Federal Judge says delay is over... | Main| Maybe we need the ESA, but we need the species even more. »

Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978)

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Adding a new feature to ESA blawg... Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) case law links and summaries (see "Read More" below), authored by ESA blawg contributor Liz Batres.

Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978)

Photo of the snail darter, from Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources., available at Outdoor Alabama


   The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a federal agency, began constructing a dam on the Tennessee River.  "When fully operational, the dam would impound water covering some 16,500 acres-much of which represents valuable and productive farmland-thereby converting the river's shallow, fast-flowing waters into a deep reservoir over 30 miles in length."  Id. at 157.

   After the dam was essentially constructed and ready for operation, a university professor "found a previously unknown species of perch, the snail darter," which is a "three-inch, tannish-colored fish."  Id. at 159.  Four months after the snail darter's discovery, Congress passed the ESA, and in 1975, this species was listed as endangered.  Id. at 161.  In listing the snail darter, the Secretary of the Interior also concluded that operating the dam would completely destroy its habitat.  Id.

   Subsequently, a local citizen group sued to enjoin completion of the dam.  Id. at 164.  Summing up the significance of the case, the Court began its analysis as follows:

   "It may seem curious to some that the survival of a relatively small number of three-inch fish among all the countless millions of species extant would require the permanent halting of a virtually completed dam for which Congress has expended more than $100 million. . . . We conclude, however, that the explicit provisions of the Endangered Species Act require precisely that result."

Id. at 172-73.  The Court further reasoned that:

   "One would be hard pressed to find a statutory provision whose terms were any plainer than those in § 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Its very words affirmatively command all federal agencies “to insure that actions authorized, funded, or carried out by them do not jeopardize the continued existence” of an endangered species or “result in the destruction or modification of habitat of such species . . . .” This language admits of no exception."

Id. at 173 (quoting 16 U.S.C. § 1536 (1976 ed.)).  

   Concluding that enjoining completion of the dam is the proper remedy under the ESA, the Court emphasized that “[t]he plain intent of Congress in enacting this statute was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.”  Id. at 184.