U.S. Court of Appeals Decision on Whooping Crane Deaths

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has made its decision concerning “The Aransas Project” court case involving the deaths of whooping cranes.  The Appeals court reversed the district court’s opinion. Friends of the Wild Whoopers is sincerely saddened about this judgment. For your convenience we have inserted a summary of the decision and a link to the entire court’s decision.

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Case: 13-40317 Document: 00512681291 Page: 1 Date Filed: 06/30/2014

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

_______

13-40317

__________

THE ARANSAS PROJECT,

Plaintiff–Appellee,

BRYAN SHAW, in His Official Capacityas Chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality;

BUDDY GARCIA, in His Official Capacityas Commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality;

CARLOS RUBINSTEIN, in His Official Capacityas Commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality;

MARK VICKERY, in His Official Capacityas Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality;

AL SEGOVIA, in His Official Capacity as South Texas Watermaster,

Defendants–Appellants,

GUADALUPE-BLANCO RIVER AUTHORITY;TEXAS CHEMICAL COUNCIL; SAN ANTONIO RIVER AUTHORITY,

Intervenors

Defendants–Appellants.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit

F I L E D

June 30, 2014

Lyle W. Cayce

Clerk

Case: 13-40317 Document: 00512681291 Page: 2 Date Filed: 06/30/2014

No. 13-40317

Before JONES, SMITH, and GARZA, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

After the deaths of some whooping cranes an endangered species The Aransas Project (“TAP”) sued directors of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA” or the “Act”). TAP sought and was granted an injunction prohibiting TCEQ from issuing new permits to withdraw water from rivers that feed the estuary where the cranes make their winter home. The injunction also required TCEQ to seek an  incidental–take permit (“ITP”) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”). A motions panel of this court stayed the injunction pending appeal. We conclude that the district court’s opinion misapplies proximate cause analysis and further, even if proximate cause had been proven, the injunction is an abuse of di scretion. The judgment is reversed.

To read the entire court document click on the following link.  whooping cranes decision

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

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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.

Connect with Asher Price on:Twitter

Send Asher Price an email.

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

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

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