Monday, May 7, 2007

EPA vs. the Endangered Species Act

Two cases that may redefine the Endangered Species Act are set to be decided in the Supreme Court- National Association of Homebuilders v. Defenders of Wildlife, and Defenders of Wildlife v. Environmental Protection Agency. The cases go back to 2002, when the EPA gave Arizona the power to legislate its own water permits for housing developments. As a direct result the San Pedro River, a sensitive wildflife corridor and home to such endangered species as the southwestern willow flycatcher, went dry in 2005.
How could the EPA turn its back on endangered species? Studies were conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service, who expressed concerns about threats to species, but they went ahead and approved Arizona's independant rights because they had met all of the requirements set by the Clean Water Act. In court, the EPA attested that they met all of the federal requirements under the Endangered Species Act when they enlisted the Fish and Wildlife Service, but the Court of Appeals agreed that the EPA shirked its duties.
I found this report while sitting in the dentist's office last week. The headline reads "Is the Endangered Species Act in Danger?"
I think the U.S. News and World Report has it all wrong. While the court cases may set to define the battle, when the water runs out, there clearly are no winners. If Arizona met its criteria for the Clean Water Act but then drained its rivers dry, then some serious revision needs to go into how the laws are being legislated.

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