Center for Biological Diversity Complaint Criticizes FWS for Delaying ESA Listings

On Thursday, the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity challenged the “foot-dragging and bureaucratic delays” reportedly causing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and its acting director to hold up the listing of 10 Endangered Species Act (ESA) “candidate” species. The District of Columbia complaint averred that the agency’s unjustifiable delay violates the ESA and in the alternative, the Administrative Procedure Act.

The complaint explained that there are 10 species, including a flower, mussels, multiple fish, and an owl, which the FWS has already determined need protection. The conservation organization contended that there is no reason why these species cannot be formally protected through final listings, and pointed to the FWS’s “abysmal record,” as the cause.

Allegedly, during the Trump Administration, the FWS “listed the fewest number of species as ‘endangered’ or ‘threatened,’ on average, of any administration.” The Center batted down the FWS’s alleged claim that it has been making “‘expeditious progress’” in adding species to the ESA’s lists.

Instead, the Center blamed the FWS for reportedly blowing internal deadlines, and deprioritizing species listing, causing the protections for these 10 species to “[l]anguish[] in regulatory limbo.” 

The citizen-driven lawsuit seeks a court order compelling the agency to act. 

Notably, the complaint comes a week after the filing of another two suits brought by the Center, one of which concerned the FWS’s decision to down-list an endangered beetle to threatened status.

The Center for Biological Diversity is represented by its own counsel.