Thursday, April 3, 2014

Court Allows Wild Horse Advocates to Intervene in Lawsuit to Protect Wild Horses From Livestock Owners Who Want Them Removed from the Range In Nevada

Yesterday, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada granted our motion to intervene, filed on behalf of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Terri Farley, and Mark Terrell, as defendants in a lawsuit filed by the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The lawsuit is a wholesale attack on the way BLM manages wild horses on public lands throughout Nevada, and seeks to have the horses removed from the range because they are competing for water and forage with private livestock that is permitted to graze on the same lands at taxpayer expense. NACO and NFBF also want the court to require BLM to terminate long-term warehousing of wild horses and immediately “dispose” of almost 50,000 wild horses currently in these facilities. Our clients sought intervention to ensure that the interests of wild horses and burros are protected and to prevent BLM from entering into any “sweetheart” deals in an effort to appease the interests of the livestock industry.  The Judge’s Order granted our clients Intervention of Right to protect their important aesthetic, educational, and economic interests.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Emergency Motion Filed to Protect the Desert Tortoise

On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, we filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in Los Angeles on Wednesday to prevent work from starting on two massive solar facilities on public lands in the Mojave desert habitat of the imperiled Desert Tortoise. Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that these facilities will impair the last remaining effective Tortoise habitat corridor in the Ivanpah Valley, the federal government has approved the projects, and absent a Court Order the solar company will begin work on the sites, which will include “translocating” adult Tortoises, and crushing and killing smaller Tortoises, hatchlings and eggs.  We have requested a hearing by March 31, 2014, and in exchange the solar company has agreed not to begin work until April 3. Our motion is here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Suit Filed To Protect The Threatened Desert Tortoise

On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, we filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California today against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), over their recent approvals of two massive solar facilities to be built in the dwindling remaining Ivanpah Valley habitat of the imperiled Desert Tortoise – the Silver State South Solar Project near Primm, Nevada, and Stateline Solar Farm Project in San Bernardino, California.  Although the FWS had earlier rejected one of these projects because it will destroy the last functioning habitat linkage for the Tortoise in the Valley, both that agency and the BLM inexplicably signed-off on both projects, ignoring the devastating impacts they will have on the species.  These impacts include destroying over 4,000 acres of Tortoise habitat and severing habitat linkages; killing hundreds of Tortoises during operation and construction of the facilities, including inevitably failed efforts to “translocate” tortoises from the project areas; and further impairing one of the last refuges for a species that already faces a bleak future, given the increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation anticipated in their habitat in coming years.  The lawsuit requests that the Court set aside the agencies’ approvals of the two projects until BLM and FWS meaningfully analyze the impacts the facilities will have on the Tortoise, which has not been done to date.  A copy of the Complaint is here.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Air National Guard Halts Wind Turbine Project in Sensitive Migratory Bird Flyway In Response to MGC Letter

Yesterday, the Air National Guard announced that in response to a letter our firm sent on January 7th on behalf of two leading bird protection organizations – the American Bird Conservancy and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory – the Air National Guard has indefinitely withdrawn its decision to construct and operate a wind turbine near Lake Erie in a critically sensitive migratory flyway for bald eagles and more than 300 bird species.  Our letter constituted a formal notice of intent to sue to the Air National Guard for violations of the Endangered Species Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, particularly in light of Air National Guard’s refusal to adopt the expert recommendations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Division of Natural Resources to avoid siting any wind turbines in this critically sensitive location for, or to at least minimize impacts to, federally endangered Kirtland’s warblers and piping plovers, bald eagles, and many other bird species that migrate through the project’s air space.  Additional media on this victory can be found here:  http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/140129.html

Friday, January 17, 2014

Settlement Reached to Protect Cliff Swallows in California

On behalf of various conservation organizations, we reached a settlement with the California Department of Transportation ("Caltrans") concerning that agency’s construction activities at two bridges where a large colony of cliff swallows have nested after completing their six-thousand mile sojourn from South America. Last year, loose netting placed at the bridges trapped and killed large numbers of swallows and other migratory birds in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In response to subsequent litigation we filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Caltrans has now agreed, among other items, to remove all exclusionary netting from the bridges; wherever feasible, to use hard surface exclusionary materials to prevent birds from nesting on areas under construction; and to demolish the existing bridges outside the swallow nesting season. A copy of the press release announcing the settlement is here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Air National Guard Put on Notice of Legal Violations for Siting Wind Energy Turbine in High-Risk Location for Eagles and Migratory Birds

Yesterday, on behalf of two leading bird protection organizations – the American Bird Conservancy and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory -- we sent a formal notice of intent to sue to the Air National Guard at Camp Perry in Ohio for rampant violations of the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.  Despite repeated requests from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Division of Natural Resources to avoid siting any wind turbines in this critically sensitive location for federally endangered Kirtland’s warblers and piping plovers, bald eagles, and more than three hundred species of migratory birds, the Air National Guard disregarded the advice and recommendations of the expert wildlife agencies.  Instead, the Air National Guard refused to engage in formal consultation with the Service under the ESA concerning the federally endangered species, and has refused to seek – much less obtain – an eagle take permit or migratory bird take authorization from the Service before constructing and operating the project.  As a federal agency, the Air National Guard’s refusal to comply with governing legal mandates not only sets a bad precedent for other renewable energy projects, but also underscores why an environmental impact statement was required for this project – an analysis which the Air National Guard failed to conduct.  The letter can be viewed here. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Appeal Filed Over Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Refusal To Consider Mitigation For Severe Nuclear Accidents

On behalf of NRDC, last week we filed a Petition for Review in the D.C. Circuit challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) recent decision concerning Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMAs) at the Limerick nuclear power plant outside Philadelphia.  Although NRC is preparing a NEPA Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) as part of the relicensing process for the power plant, and recognizes that SAMAs – which can reduce the severity of serious nuclear accidents – must be considered as part of that NEPA process, the agency recently ruled that NRDC may not challenge the adequacy of the SAMA analysis because the agency’s regulations foreclose such a challenge. The Petition seeks to overturn that ruling in order to force NRC to conduct a legally sufficient SAMA analysis during relicensing.