Federal Appeals Court Reverses Whooping Crane Death Case

******* Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) just received news that the Federal Appeals court has reversed a ruling that TCEQ is responsible for the deaths of 23 endangered whooping cranes in 2010. Statesman.com issues the following news release. *******

Ruling against Texas environmental agency on endangered whooping cranes reversed on appeal 

statesman.com    Posted: 2:12 p.m. Monday, June 30, 2014

By Asher Price

In an apparent win for state officials and river authorities, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court has reversed a ruling that Texas’ environmental agency is responsible for the deaths of 23 endangered whooping cranes several years ago.

In 2013, a federal judge held the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality failed to manage the waters of the Guadalupe River to ensure the cranes’ survival. That ruling threatened to upend water permitting in the Guadalupe and other basins, as river authorities balanced the sale of water to cities, industrial facilities, and farmers with the water needs of fish and other wildlife.

But on Monday, three judges at the U.S. Fifth Circuit found that the lower court failed to adequately determine whether the TCEQ’s actions could forseeably have led to the crane deaths.

“Nowhere does the court explain why the remote connection between water licensing, decisions to draw river water by hundreds of users, whooping crane habitat, and crane deaths that occurred during a year of extraordinary drought compels (Endangered Species Act) liability,” the judges wrote.

They continued: “There is a long chain of causation here between the TCEQ’s issuance of permits to take water from the rivers and cranes’ mortality…Every link of this chain depends on modeling and estimation. Proximate cause, however, requires the causal factors and the result to be reasonably foreseeable.”

Asher Price

About Asher Price

Asher Price has covered energy and the environment for the American-Statesman since 2006. Twice the Society of Environmental Journalists has named him a finalist for its beat reporter of the year award.

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 ***** FOTWW’s mission is to protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population
of wild whooping cranes and their habitat
. *****

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