From the Pacific to the Capitol to the Everglades, endangered species news nationwide...
While the ESA news has been fairly quiet (only a few research permit announcements in the Federal Register), the world of wildlife law has been absurdly busy.
Perhaps most notably, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted certiorari on NRDC v. Winters, in which the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court preliminary injunction of multi-national Naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean. Disregarding any balancing of the ESA with national security, the Nines agreed with the U.S. District Court Judge in Los Angeles that the Plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their allegations of violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and Coastal Zone Management Act by the U.S. Navy. The DOJ brief from the Solicitor General is especially pointed in raising the national security implications. My prediction: reversed and remand, 6-3, with express statutory or regulatory exemptions ultimately being adopted in response to the environmentalist's claims. See also, AP Wire story from Law.com and prior ESAblawg (Feb. 19, 2008).
But what the Supreme's giveth, they can also deny. The Court rejected a Defenders of Wildlife petition appealing an affirmation of the Administration's waiver of environmental laws related to the U.S.-Mexico border fence. See docket for Defenders of Wildlife v. Chertoff, Case No. 07-1180. The very next day, the Los Angeles Times reported that "In an aggressive move to finish building 670 miles of border fence by the end of this year, the Department of Homeland Security... will waive federal environmental laws to meet that goal."
Not all policy makers can be viewed so critically. In Florida, Governor Charlie Crist and the leaders of the South Florida Water Management District announced their plans for a massive land purchase in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Dubbed the Revival of the River of Grass, Florida and SFWMD officials announced their intent to purchase the assets of the U.S. Sugar Corporation, including 187,000 acres of former Everglades lands, with a grand vision to reconnect Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. See Palm Beach Post special report, Governor Crist's Serve to Preserve climate change campaign, and SFWMD website. The deal, of course, could have huge implications for the many treasured habitats and endangered and threatened species in the ecosystem.
Governor Crist stands as official witness as Shannon Estenoz, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Vice Chair, and Robert Buker, United States Sugar Corporation President and CEO, sign a “Statement of Principles,” which provides a non-binding framework to acquire property for the protection of Florida's coastal estuaries and the restoration of the Everglades. Negotiations on the final agreement will take place over the coming months, with a closing on the real estate anticipated before the year's end. (Photo and caption from www.sfwmd.gov)
Finally, on a global / macro level, the Environmental News Network continues to report on the mounting evidence of how severely climate change may effect endangered species: on June 25, 2008, it wrote that "Climate change could severely impact California's unique native plants". See also Dec. 3, 2007, ENN story on how climate change will drive tree populations northward; and October 23, 2007 ENN story on warming potential to wipe out species.