Report: Sue-Happy Activists Threaten Endangered Species

We’ve detailed the litigious practices of environmental activists, who routinely collude with government agencies to block economic development in a process known as “sue and settle.” These lawsuits stymie energy production, destroy jobs, and leave taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars in legal fees.

Still, the activists claim the lawsuits help keep our air and water clean and protect endangered species from extinction. But is this true? According to a new report, the answer is a resounding no. In fact, activist litigation may actually harm the environment it is intended to help.

The report, conducted by the Western Energy Alliance, finds that environmental groups are exploiting the Endangered Species Act to the detriment of…endangered species. In particular, activists have filed 46 petitions since 2011 with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list or uplist (when a species is reclassified as more vulnerable) 122 species under the ESA. Two “serial litigants,” the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and WildEarth Guardians (WEG), filed 74 percent of the petitions covering 89 percent of the species.

The problem, according to WEA, is that activists are burdening regulators with petitions for animals that clearly are not endangered, “diverting resources away from actual species recovery and into litigation and bureaucratic process.” Indeed, as WEA explains, just 2 percent of species listed under the ESA over the last four decades have been declared recovered—thanks in part to excessive activist litigation.

Environmentalists exploit the ESA and other laws to advance their radical anti-energy agenda, even when it comes at the expense of the environment they purport to represent. It appears the only thing worse for the environment than a polluter is an activist with a law degree.

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