President's weekly report, February 26, 2016

February 29, 2016 | By ROB RIVETT

Endangered species — holding California to the law

We filed this petition this week against the California Department of Fish & Game, demanding that the agency reviews it decisions to list various species under the state’s endangered species act. The law is simple: Like its federal counterpart the agency must examine species every five years to determine whether the listing is still warranted. For 233 species, the answer is “we don’t know — because we haven’t bothered to do the mandatory five-year review.” The problem with this is that the state and its regulatory oversight should be directed at those species that really need help, not those that are not really threatened with extinction. So we’re suing the state. For more, see our blog post here.

Wetlands and the courts — Defending the right to go to court

Pacific Legal Foundation filed its Respondents’ Brief on the merits in United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc. The Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in the case on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. You can read more about the case and our briefing here.

Wetlands and WOTUS

The Sixth Circuit ruled this week that it had jurisdiction to hear various challenges to the EPA’s new Waters of the United States (aka WOTUS) Rule. The alternative would have been for the challenges to be heard in district court. The ruling was based on a 1-1-1 decision, meaning that none of the three judges could agree on the rationale, though two did on the result. We expect that all the judges on the Sixth Circuit will be asked to weigh in on a rehearing. For more, see our blog post.

Wetlands and the Senate

John Duarte’s alleged “wetlands” “wheat farm”

Our Duarte case is getting some attention in high places. That’s the case, you will recall, where the Corps has gone after a farmer like gangbusters for plowing his farmland for winter wheat. Although he deliberately avoided any wetlands, the Corps says he “deep-ripped” the soil, meaning he is supposed to plowed so deeply that wetlands became dry. The only problem, however, is that he didn’t. In any event, on the floor of the Senate, Senator Charles Grassley used the case as a poster child for what goes wrong when the Corps exceeds its jurisdiction, despite assurances to the contrary. For more, and a link to the Senator’s speech, see our blog post here.