In addition to traditional litigation, our firm also handles various issues outside the courtroom. For example we have frequently worked on listing petitions, testified before congress, and sent in comments during rulemaking comment periods.
Here is a listing of some of our various non-litigation work.
Rulemaking Petition Concerning Wind Energy Impacts on Migratory Birds
On behalf of American Bird Conservancy, we filed a comprehensive rulemaking petition with the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). The petition urges FWS to promulgate regulations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) establishing a comprehensive permitting system for wind power projects that is designed to avoid and minimize adverse impacts on migratory birds. The petition describes the need for such a system and the legal framework under which FWS has more than sufficient authority to promulgate such regulations. Further, the petition examines in detail the several benefits of the proposed permitting system and also offers specific regulatory language that would accomplish the objectives identified in this petition. The proposed regulations seek to protect migratory birds at risk from wind energy projects, and at the same time provide the industry with the legal certainty that wind developers in compliance with a permit would not be subject to penalties for violation of the MBTA. More information on the petition is available here:http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/wind_farms.html
Endangered Sooty ManGabeys
We represented a coalition of animal protection groups in an administrative proceeding before the Fish and Wildlife Service concerning a request for a permit by Yerkes National Primate Research Center to immediately kill 30 endangered sooty mangabeys and lethally take an additional 20 mangabeys a year for five years under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Yerkes applied for the permit under Section 10 of the ESA, arguing that its contribution of funds to a purported conservation effort for the species in the wild justified its "take" of an endangered species for research on human disease issues and to reduce the number of mangabeys at its facility. While the coalition supports efforts to develop cures for human diseases, it opposed permitting research under the ESA on a "pay-to-take" basis because such permits violate the ESA. The coalition also demanded that the Fish and Wildlife Service comply with NEPA before issuing any such permit. As a result of issues raised by the coalitions' comment letter, Yerkes withdrew its application to lethally take the endangered monkeys.
"Enhancement" Regulations & Policy
We represented International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in a proceeding before the US Fish and Wildlife Service concerning proposed regulations that would vastly expand the activities the agency could permit under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the name of "enhancing" the survival of the species. The proposed rule would codify a "pay-to-take" scheme for endangered species so long as some contribution, however nominal, is paid to an in situ conservation effort. IFAW's extensive comments explain that the proposed rules would allow the removal from the wild, and even killing, of extremely imperilled species for sport hunting, the fashion industry, entertainment, exhibition, the pet trade, traditional medicines, and other forms of commercial exploitation – all of which violate the plain language of the ESA, and will lead to further devastation of species that are already on the brink of extinction.
Wind Power/Congressional Testimony
Eric Glitzenstein was invited to testify before a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee concerning the impacts of improperly sited wind power projects on wildlife. For a copy of the written testimony (which calls for more stringent regulation of such projects) click here.
Wind Power/FACA Compliance
On behalf of a coalition of conservation organizations, we sent a letter to the Fish & Wildlife Service notifying the agency that its plan to convene a committee to engage in a "collaborative process" to amend and develop guidelines for siting wind turbines so as to minimize wildlife impacts violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act. In response, the agency has agreed to revise its plans and convene the committee in compliance with FACA. In response to our subsequent letter complaining about the lack of scientific expertise on the committee, the Service added an expert on bats, which have been killed in large numbers by wind turbines.
We assisted the Fund for Animals and Australians for Animals in petitioning the Fish and Wildlife Service to provide protection for the koala under the Endangered Species Act. On May 9, 2000, the Service agreed to list the Koala as threatened due to ongoing destruction of its habitat in Australia.
Little Brown Bats
We assisted leading bat biologists Dr. Thomas Kunz and Dr. Jonathan Reichard – along with conservation organizations including Bat Conservation International, Friends of Blackwater Canyon, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Wildlife Advocacy Project – in requesting that the Fish and Wildlife Service undertake an extensive status assessment of the little brown bat in light of the grave threat posed by the rapidy spreading lethal disease known as white-nose syndrome, in addition to other cumulative threats. The Service agreed to conduct an assessment under its candidate review process, and the results of the assessment and related protections are expected in 2011.