July 1, 2008

CBD files suit over Cook Inlet Beluga Whale

By CBD files suit over Cook Inlet Beluga Whale

Yesterday the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit in federal district court in DC challenging the Service's decision to push back, by six months, a final decision on CBD's petition to list the Alaska Cook Inlet distinct population segment of Beluga whale.  CBD submitted the petition in 2006, and the Service made a positive 90-day finding in April, 2007, at that time proposing to list the DPS as endangered.  Generally speaking, the ESA requires a final decision on listing petitions to be made within 12 months of a proposed listing.  See 16 U.S.C. s. 1533(b)(3)(B).  Yet the ESA also expressly authorizes the extension of that final decision period by six months, if the Service determines that "there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to the determination or revision concerned."  See id. s. 1533(b)(6)(B)(i).  Most "timelimit" lawsuits under the ESA focus on instances where the Service has simply missed the statutorily imposed deadline, see, e.g., CBD's recent polar bear suit or PLF's 2007 bald eagle suit, so this case is for that reason somewhat unusual.

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