Environmental Litigation: Information on Endangered Species Act Deadline Suits, Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representative [open pdf - 2MB]
"To receive protection under the ESA [Endangered Species Act]-enacted to conserve at risk species-a species must first be added to one of the federal lists of threatened or endangered species. FWS [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] and NMFS [National Marine Fisheries Service] jointly administer the ESA and have programs that encompass actions related to Section 4 of the ESA. Some of these actions-such as making findings on petitions filed by a person or group requesting addition or removal of species from one of the lists-must be completed by specific statutory deadlines. GAO [Government Accountability Office] was asked to review deadline litigation brought under Section 4 of the ESA. This report examines (1) the number and scope of deadline suits filed against the Services during fiscal years 2005 through 2015 under Section 4 of the ESA, and (2) the outcomes of these suits and the effect, if any, the suits had on the Services' implementation of their Section 4 programs. GAO reviewed the ESA and agency documents; obtained a list of Section 4-related suits filed during fiscal years 2005 through 2015 from the Department of Justice, which is responsible for representing the Services; identified from the list those that were deadline suits and compared the list with other sources to confirm reliability; analyzed the suits, including documentation on how they were resolved; and interviewed Justice, FWS, and NMFS officials. The agencies provided technical comments on this report."
GAO-17-304; Government Accountability Office-17-304
United States Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/