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Defenders of Wildlife v. Hodel

Citation: 17 ELR 20882
No. No. 3-86 CIV 757, 658 F. Supp. 43/(D. Minn., 02/25/1987)

The court holds that three wildlife conservation organizations do not have standing to challenge the Secretary of the Interior's decision to rescind a requirement that federal agencies institute consultation procedures pursuant to § 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when agency action abroad might affect species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act. The court first holds that plaintiffs' statement that their members benefit both professionally and personally from observing endangered and threatened species of wildlife and plants whose primary range is outside the United States is insufficient to establish injury-in-fact, since plaintiffs have merely alleged an interest in the proper enforcement of the ESA. The fact that agencies involved in ongoing projects no longer have a continuing duty to consult is insufficient to establish injury. The court distinguishes Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 8 ELR 20513, on the grounds that Hill involved agencies' continuing duty to ensure that a federal project does not jeopardize an endangered species. The court holds that plaintiffs have not shown that certain ongoing and planned federal projects are harming or will harm endangered species as a result of the Secretary's decision. There is no indication that the planned projects will adversely affect endangered species, and it is possible that § 7 consultation has occurred in the planning stages of the listed projects. Moreover, plaintiffs do not seek the remedy that would redress the alleged injury, as instead of seeking to enjoin the agency actions that are allegedly causing harm to endangered species, they have asked the court to interpret the ESA in the abstract.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Brian B. O'Neill
Faegre & Benson
2300 Multifoods Tower, 33 S. 6th St., Minneapolis MN 55402-3694
(612) 371-5300

Counsel for Defendant
Donald A. Carr, Lee M. Kolker
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 724-7352