Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Efforts to Protect Bald Eagles at the Norfolk City Botanical Gardens

On behalf of the grassroots group Eagle On Alliance the firm today sent a letter to the City Manager for Norfolk  Virginia, detailing multiple violations of a permit issued under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act with respect to eagles that have been making their nest at the Norfolk Botanical Garden for over a decade.  In October 2012, the City was given a permit by the Fish and Wildlife Service to remove 3 eagles nests at the Garden, claiming that these eagles pose a risk of an airplane collision at the nearby International Norfolk Airport.  Since then, the City, with the help of the United States Department of Agriculture (and federal taxpayer money) has removed at least 6 nests, as the eagle pair – determined to engage in successful nesting this Spring – continue to rebuild their nest each time it is torn down by the City.   Although there are other ways for the Airport to protect the public from any risk of an eagle-plane collision at the Airport, Eagle On Alliance has also suggested taking measures to help these eagles relocate their nest further away from the Airport.  However, to date, the City has rejected these proposals and insists on continuing to destroy the nest each time the eagles reconstruct it.  Because, as the FWS itself acknowledges, “bald eagles exhibit high nest fidelity,” the City apparently intends to continue to tear down these nests indefinitely, rather than pursue more reasonable alternatives.  A copy of the letter sent by the firm can be found here; a recent photograph of one of the eagles building its nest can be found here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Katherine Meyer and Eric Glitzenstein Receive Kerry Rydberg Award

At the annual Environmental and Natural Resources Law Conference last weekend in Eugene, Oregon -- the nation’s largest annual conference devoted to public interest environmental law --  Kathy and Eric were awarded the prestigious Kerry Rydberg Award for excellence in environmental litigation.   Each year the students of the University of Oregon Law School’s Land, Air, Water (LAW) conference present the award for outstanding achievements in grass-roots environmental law.   The award is given in honor of a 1987 Oregon Law school graduate who was dedicated to public interest law until a tragic automobile accident ended his life.  Kathy and Eric attended the ceremony via Skype and paid tribute to their clients, professional colleagues, past firm attorneys, and especially the other lawyers and administrative staff at the firm – Howard Crystal, Bill Eubanks, Jessica Almy, Leslie Mink, and Amanda Barker.   Eric and Kathy also expressed their admiration and appreciation for all of the public interest attorneys who dedicate their legal careers to trying to save the Earth’s wild places and creatures.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Effort to Save Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Launched

On behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”) and the Maricopa Audubon Society we have provided formal notice of Endangered Species Act violations in connection with federal agency actions harming the Southwestern willow flycatcher, a highly endangered bird in Arizona and other southwestern states.  Because of the ongoing destruction of the flycatcher’s native riparian willow habitat, the species has been forced to adapt in many locations to living in tamarisk, an exotic plant that frequently occupies degraded riparian habitats in the southwestern U.S.  Beginning in the late 1990s, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – an agency within the Department of Agriculture – began to permit and otherwise facilitate the release of tamarisk-eating beetles – another non-native species on the theory that this would help to eradicate tamarisk.  Grave concerns were raised by the Fish and Wildlife Service, CBD, and others that this program could do serious harm to the flycatcher unless steps were taken to ensure that any impact on flycatcher habitat would be mitigated by strenuous efforts to restore native willow vegetation in locations where tamarisk might be destroyed.  However, APHIS assured the Service and others that the particular species of beetle being released would not be able to survive in the latitudes where flycatchers exist and, on that basis, the release program was allowed to proceed.  Soon thereafter, APHIS’s prediction proved false, and the beetle is now decimating flycatcher habitat, creating a massive new threat to this already highly imperiled species.  But although APHIS has now halted new releases of the beetle, it has made no commitment to mitigate for the ongoing devastating impacts of its earlier actions.  Regrettably, to date, the FWS has signed off on that course of conduct.  Accordingly, we have sent a detailed notice to APHIS, FWS, and other federal officials that merely walking away from the unfolding disaster for which APHIS is directly responsible contravenes various provisions of the Endangered Species Act, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act.  A copy of the notice can be found here.  A copy of CBD’s press release concerning the notice can be found here.          

Friday, March 1, 2013

Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal celebrate their twentieth anniversary

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal.  Founded by Katherine Meyer and Eric Glitzenstein on March 1, 1993, the Firm has since been an unwavering voice for animals, the environment, and public interest advocacy.  Part of the team since the beginning, Director of Operations Leslie Mink has helped grow the Firm into a practice that has been recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as “the most effective public-interest law firm in Washington.”
In 1996, the firm was joined by Howard Crystal, who became a name partner in 2005. Over the years, many talented and dedicated lawyers have been part of the firm – and many of our former attorneys have gone on to impressive careers in public interest law and other forms of public service.  Last year, attorney Bill Eubanks was named partner in the Firm.
Among the highlights of the Firm’s accomplishments over the past twenty years are:

-  victories for animals, successfully challenged federal regulations allowing “canned hunting,” ending the burning of endangered sea turtles in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, stopping the infamous Hegins pigeon shoot, eliminating grizzly bear hunting in Montana, and establishing a legal framework for Article III standing for individuals harmed by the treatment of captive wildlife;

bringing many cases to protect endangered species and preserve biodiversity, including cases leading to the creation of new sanctuaries and refuges for the Florida manatee, protection of the North Atlantic right whale from ship strikes, and the listing of hundreds of animals and plants as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act;

- protecting wild places by winning cases curbing off-road vehicles, jetskis, and snowmobile use in national parks;

- protecting public health and safety by achieving intervention for public health organizations in the U.S. Department of Justice’s massive case against the tobacco industry, and obtaining improved restoration of Department of Energy nuclear waste sites; and

ensuring access to government records and other agency proceedings through the Freedom of Information Act, Federal Advisory Committee Act, and other open government statutes.
Other current members of the Firm, Amanda Barker and Jessica Almy, congratulate the Firm’s founders and partners on this milestone and wish them great success as they continue to trailblaze on behalf of animals, the environment, and the people who care about them over the coming years.