||Brandon M. Middleton
Pacific Legal Foundation
PLF files lawsuit to stop feds’ “foot-dragging” on elderberry beetle de-listing
Sacramento, CA; March 12, 2012: Pacific Legal Foundation, after years of delay by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in delisting Valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB) from the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, today filed a lawsuit to “stop the federal bureaucrats’ foot-dragging.” The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a coalition of California landowners, businesses, farmers, and flood control districts harmed by the unnecessary and unjustified federal regulations.
Today’s lawsuit follows PLF’s petition to delist the beetle in September, 2010. PLF attorney Brandon M. Middleton says that while the Endangered Species Act requires the Service to have provided a final response to PLF’s delisting petition 12 months after the petition was filed, that deadline has long since passed.
“The clock has run out on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to act. Property owners, flood control and reclamation districts, and all American taxpayers are paying the price for the agency’s utter failure to follow its own recommendations to drop the unnecessary protections,” Middleton said. “Our lawsuit sends a clear and loud message to regulators — it’s time to stop the foot-dragging.”
The one-inch beetle is found up and down Central California, from Redding in the north to Bakersfield in the south. Its listing as “threatened” under the ESA since 1980 has hampered the productive use of land and the building and maintenance of flood-control levies.
A 2006 study sponsored by FWS itself found that the VELB no longer needed special protections and should be taken off the ESA list. But the agency failed to act, and the beetle stayed on the list. And while the Service provided an initial response in 2011 to PLF’s delisting petition, it has let the 12-month deadline for providing a final determination expire.
“It’s been nearly six years since the Service recognized the beetle’s recovery, and eighteen months since PLF petitioned the Service to delist the species,” Middleton said. “Because of the agency’s continued delay, we are left with no other option but to take the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court and obtain a court order that the Service respond to our petition.”
The parties to PLF’s lawsuit include:
- Reclamation District No. 784
- Levee District One
- North Sacramento Land Company
- Sacramento Valley Landowners Association
- Butte County Farm Bureau
- Solano County Farm Bureau
- Yolo County Farm Bureau
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is the leading watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts across the country. Among PLF’s noteworthy victories: The federal court ruling that led to the bald eagle being removed from the ESA list.