Rep. Gosar Exposes Center for Biological Diversity for Dishonest “Sue and Settle” Tactics Forcing Arbitrary Listing of Species

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, announced their intention to pursue countless “sue and settle” lawsuits against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in an effort to arbitrarily force the listing of hundreds of additional species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA):

For Immediate Release

Date: August 25, 2016

Contact: Steven D. Smith

Steven.Smith@mail.house.gov

Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, announced their intention to pursue countless “sue and settle” lawsuits against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in an effort to arbitrarily force the listing of hundreds of additional species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA):

“Extremist environmentalist groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), announced their intent this week to unleash several hundred more frivolous lawsuits against the Fish and Wildlife Service. These organizations have a long history of abusing the ESA in order to force taxpayers to pay millions of dollars in government legal fees defending these arbitrary lawsuits.

“The truth is that misguided groups like CBD are simply using 'sue and settle' tactics to fund and implement their radical agenda. This behavior sets a dangerous legal precedent that must be stopped. Congress must reform the ESA to protect federal agencies from deceptive legal attacks from outside groups that do more harm than good to animals on the verge of extinction. Such legislative action includes increasing transparency for species listings and placing maximum amounts on awards of attorney’s fees by making the ESA conform to the Equal Access to Justice Act.”


Background:

(Courtesy of the Congressional Western Caucus)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is approaching the end of a five year, 757 species work plan dictated by a court order drafted behind closed doors because of lawsuits brought by litigation happy groups like the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). Now the CBD is threatening to sue again on an additional 417 species, including 87 plants and 235 invertebrates such as snails, mussels, and beetles. The FWS had hoped the 2011 settlement would finally relieve them of the endless litigation it has faced since 2007, but it has only emboldened the CBD and other serial litigants.

(Courtesy of Congressman Gosar)
Marita Noon reported, “Over a three-year period, 2009-2012…American taxpayers footed the bill for more than $53 million in so-called environmental groups’ legal fees—and the actual number could be much higher… The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) brags about its use of lawsuits to block development—but it is not just oil and gas they block, it is virtually all human activity.” Amos Eno, who has been involved in conservation for four decades, told Noon: “CBD doesn’t care about the critters. They are creating a listing pipeline and then making money off of it.”

In November 2015, the House passed the bipartisan Collins-Gosar bill requiring tracking and disclosure of attorney fees paid out from environmental lawsuits. Prior to 1995, Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) payments were approximately $3 million dollars annually.  Unfortunately, EAJA has operated in the dark for more than 20 years and payments have skyrocketed.  The Government Accountability Office recently confirmed that we don’t even know the totality of these costs as most federal agencies don’t even bother trying to compile this information.  H.R. 3279, the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, tracks how much money is paid out under EAJA, and more importantly, from which agencies. Click HERE to read more.

Congressman Gosar has previously cosponsored the following legislation that aims to reform the serious deficiencies in the ESA:

H.R.4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act, would require federal agencies to make any information used to make an ESA decision available to the public and accessible on the Internet.

H.R.4316, the Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act, would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to disclose to Congress and online: the amount of taxpayer dollars spent responding to ESA lawsuits; the number of employees utilized by the Fish and Wildlife Service for litigation purposes; and the amount of attorney’s fees awarded in ESA lawsuits and settlements.

H.R.4317, the State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act, would require the federal government to divulge to affected states all data it uses to justify ESA decisions. It would also require the government to consult with affected states, tribes and local governments and utilize their data when formulating decisions.

H.R.4318, the Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act, would place maximum amounts on awards of attorney’s fees by making the ESA conform to the Equal Access to Justice Act, which limits the prevailing hourly fee for attorneys to $125 per hour.

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