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Species Must Be Listed or Not Listed by FWS within 12 Months of Proposed Listing
Description Court held for environmental groups that sued the government for not deciding whether to list endangered or threatened species within 12 months as required by Endangered Species Act. The claim by the Fish and Wildlife Service that its budget was too small to study the species properly may be true, but it does not relieve the duty created by the statute.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Endangered Species Act; Classifications
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Environmental organizations sued the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Secretary of Interior, claiming they were violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to make timely findings on petitions to list four species as threatened or endangered under the ESA. The ESA states that species proposed for listing will be listed or not listed by the FWS within 12 months. The FWS explained that Congress's moratorium on ESA listings and critical habitat designations, along with severe funding constraints, essentially shut down the ESA listing program as of October 1995. Limited funding for the program became available later in 1996, but a backlog of proposed listings remains. Plaintiffs insist that FWS must follow existing regulatory procedures to make listing determinations on specific time schedules under the ESA.
Decision "I conclude that the Secretary has violated the provisions of the ESA concerning the 12-month findings" required by the statute for the FWS to make listing determinations. "I am sympathetic with FWS' position of being given mandatory duties by Congress without sufficient funds to get the job done. I am also sympathetic with plaintiffs' frustration at multiple year delays in listing species which require quicker attention." Since the statute sets time limits for determination, the Secretary is ordered to complete listing determinations within a short time.
Citation Biodiversity Legal Foundation v. Badgley, 1999 WL 1042567 (Slip Copy, D. Ore.)

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