Monday, June 4, 2012

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House Committee Seeks Cost Info on ESA Lawsuits

Washington--House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) on Thursday sent a series of lettersto the Obama administration requesting further information on how much the federal government spends on Endangered Species Act-related litigation and settlement costs.

According to the committee, the ESA has become increasingly driven by litigation and is used by special interest groups as a way to bring hundreds of lawsuits against the government. The Interior Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are actively involved in more than 200 lawsuits and legal actions concerning the ESA.

The first letter, sent to the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requests information on the total cost of the recent settlements between WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as information on how the settlements were reached.

The second set of letters relates to the settlement between the Justice Department, NOAA and the Bonneville Power Administration that resulted in payment of close to $2 million in attorney and legal fees to plaintiffs. The letters seek information and supporting documents on how the large payment was agreed to, as well as information about other cases where large sums of attorney fees were reported as being paid.

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