Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The company that had planned to build the ecologically destructive Calico solar project in the Mojave Desert has relinquished its right of way from the Bureau of Land Management and announced its decision not to proceed with the project. Last year, on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club, we sued in federal court in California over BLM’s authorization to construct the project on federal lands. We contended that the project would be highly detrimental to the federally threatened desert tortoise as well as to federally protected golden eagles. Following the filing of our case, BLM and the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that they were conducting further reviews under the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and that any work on the project would be suspended in the meantime. In light of the company’s recent decision to abandon the harmful project, we have voluntarily dismissed our lawsuit.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
On behalf of Friends of the Earth (FoE), we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit today against the State Department for refusing to release records concerning conflicts of interest associated with the Keystone XL Pipeline approval process. FoE has previously shown inappropriate ties between contractors working for State and TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline. FoE has also documented the close ties between lobbyists for TransCanada and high-ranking State department officials. Although FoE submitted the most recent FOIA request months ago and sought expedited review, to date State has not released any records. The suit seeks release of all records concerning these conflicts on an expedited basis.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
We filed a lawsuit today under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act on behalf of a grassroots group in Norfolk Virginia – Eagle On Alliance (EOA) – to stop the federal government from destroying the nests of the only nesting pair of bald eagles available for public viewing in Norfolk. The eagles – a symbol of our country -- have lived for years at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Although the Fish and Wildlife Service issued the permits last fall for the stated purpose of protecting the public from an “eagle-strike” at the adjacent Norfolk International Airport, internal records obtained by EOA under the open records laws showed that the biologists consulted by the agency agreed that it was “unlikely” destruction of the eagles’ nests “would be successful” in keeping these or other eagles out of the area which contains extremely rich habitat for eagles and other birds, including Lake Whitehurst which is also next to the Airport. In fact, although the City of Norfolk, with the help of USDA’s “Wildlife Services,” destroyed seven nests between October 2012 and March 2013 – each time waiting until nest construction was almost completed -- the Norfolk Eagle pair shows no signs of leaving the area. Internal Records also show that although the Airport Authority recently spent millions of dollars renovating the Airport lobby, by constructing a massive skylight, marble-wrapped columns, and new terrazzo flooring, it has failed to take basic steps taken by other Airports around the country to detect and deter birds from using the runways and surrounding areas. However, the Eagle Protection Act requires that permits to take eagles or their nests must be “necessary” to protect the public from a safety hazard, and the FWS’s own regulations stress that such permits cannot be issued unless there is “no practicable alternative to nest removal that would protect the interest to be served.” EOA seeks to halt further destruction of the eagles’ nests so that the Norfolk Eagles will have a chance for a successful breeding season.