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Lawsuit Challenges Use Of Endangered Species To Stop Energy Boom

Stephen Moore | Investors Business Daily

17 Mar 2014

Oklahoma's attorney general has filed what could become a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, arguing the so-called "sue and settle" procedure for listing animals and plants on the endangered and threatened list violates the federal Endangered Species Act.

Scott Pruitt filed the complaint late Monday on behalf of the state of Oklahoma and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance (DEPA), a national network of oil and gas companies.

The attorney general charges that "by entering into private settlements with special interest litigants, (the Fish and Wildlife Service) has attempted to circumvent the legislative and regulatory process and make fundamental changes to its (Endangered Species Act)-imposed obligations."

But this is more than just another green lawsuit. If Oklahoma and DEPA lose their suit, it could have a devastating impact on the U.S. energy boom, halting exploration and drilling on huge tracts of energy-rich land.

In their suit, Oklahoma and the DEPA seek "declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of the ESA." The relief is intended to overturn designation of dozens of species added to the threatened or endangered list through the "sue and settle" process.

It works by left-wing environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and Wildlife Guardians, petitioning Fish and Wildlife (FWS) to list a species as nearing extinction and then quickly suing the government to take action.

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