Today PLF filed a lawsuit against the federal government for its illegal designation of critical habitat for the distinct southern population of the green sturgeon, a marine species located throughout the West Coast of the United States. Over 11,000 square miles of critical habitat were designated, from the northern tip of the State of Washington to the mid-California coast. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) states clearly that, before designating any area as critical habitat, the government must carefully balance economic impacts, on the one hand, against conservation goals, on the other hand. Unfortunately, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) refused to follow this mandate when it set aside large swaths of territory it viewed as “high value areas” without even considering economic impacts.
Moreover, another federal law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), requires that NMFS consider alternatives to designating critical habitat, but NMFS categorically refused to comply with NEPA in designating green sturgeon habitat. This utter failure by NMFS to comply with NEPA is, put plainly, slap-down illegal.