SOURCE: Spirit of the Sage Council

September 06, 2007 16:56 ET

D.C. Judge Decides That It's OK for More Than 60 Million Acres of Endangered Species Habitat to Be Destroyed Nationwide Says Spirit of the Sage Council

Historic Court Verdict Takes Conservation Out of Habitat Conservation Plans

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - September 6, 2007) - D.C. District Court rules Habitat Conservation Plans do not conserve Conservation Plans nationwide. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have used a loophole exemption clause in the federal Endangered Species Act to approve over 500 Habitat Conservation Plans for more than 500 different endangered species and they do not have to provide conservation or promote recovery.

After ten years, Judge Emmett Sullivan, D.C. District Court, released his Decision and Order regarding the biggest legal challenge to the federal Endangered Species Act in history (Spirit of the Sage Council, et al. v. U.S. Interior Secretary Kempthorne). Released on Thursday, Sullivan's decision concluded that Habitat Conservation Plans do not conserve or promote the recovery of federally listed endangered species.

For over a decade, several nonprofit conservation groups, led by Spirit of the Sage Council, have filed numerous lawsuits against the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, over the governments Rule Makings that effect hundreds of various endangered species. The two federal Rules are referred to as No Surprises and Permit Revocation and are used in over 500 Habitat Conservation Plans nationwide.

The Sage Council, including the Humane Society of the U.S. and Mountaineers, contended that the No Surprises Rule was in violation of the Act and prevented the recovery of endangered species that the Services were including in Incidental Take Permits with Habitat Conservation Plans. No Surprises gives an assurance to industry i.e. logging, mining, building and local governments, that once a permit is issued to them, the federal government will not ever require them to provide additional conservation habitat or measures, even when a species is declining in numbers. Sage Council contended that this sort of permit guarantee could effect a species ability to recover if it was found that a Habitat Conservation Plan was inadequate. Since 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved over 500 Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) with Incidental Take Permits, including No Surprises guarantees, that impact over SIXTY MILLION HABITAT ACRES.

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