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Species Protection Versus State Agency Autonomy: Who Wins Under the California Endangered Species Act?

August 2006

Citation: ELR 10644

Author: Dhananjay Manthripragada

Editor's Summary: States play an important role in protecting endangered and threatened species, particularly those that are listed only under state endangered species acts (ESAs). Much like the federal Endangered Species Act, many state ESAs require agency consultation prior to the permitting of any activities that may result in the take of a listed species. But while this requirement is often clear for private activities, it may be less so for activities taken by state agencies. As such, a state lead agency could conceivably authorize projects that decimate populations of endangered species without seriously considering alternatives or mitigation measures either through consultation or a permitting process. In this Article, Dhananjay Manthripragada argues that agency-toagency communication obligations currently imposed on state lead agencies by the California Endangered Species Act and other state ESAs do not afford species adequate protection. He therefore proposes policy solutions that, if implemented, would address this concern while minimizing unwelcome intrusion upon state lead agency autonomy.

Mr. Manthripragada is a third-year law student at the UCLA School of Law. The original research and analysis was conducted upon the request of the California State Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. The UCLA School of Law's Evan Frankel Environmental Law and Policy Program selected an earlier version of this Article as an important contribution to public policy issues relating to environmental governance and regulation. The author would like to give special thanks to Prof. Jonathan Zasloff for his guidance throughout the writing of this Article.

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