THE ROCKPORT PILOT

Judge denies dismissal of ESA lawsuit

Aug 6, 2010 | The Rockport Pilot | TAP In The News

In the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) litigation brought by The Aransas Project (TAP) against officials of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), United States District Judge Janis Jack denied all motions to dismiss the litigation.

Proceeding issue-by-issue, Jack entertained arguments from all parties before ruling from the bench to deny each of the motions brought by the defendants and interveners urging the court to dismiss the case or abstain from hearing it. The ruling clears the path for the litigation to proceed on the fate of the Whooping Crane, an internationally-recognized endangered species.

TAP legal counsel Jim Blackburn said, “TAP’s litigation overcame a major hurdle in surviving motions brought by TCEQ and various interveners.”

This significant development in the case followed an approximate 90-minute hearing before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, Wednesday, July 28.
Over the course of the hearing, the Office of the Attorney General, flanked by lawyers for interveners Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and the Texas Chemical Council (TCC), advanced various arguments seeking to secure the dismissal of TAP’s case as well as urging the court to abstain from hearing the case on grounds it would interfere with the state’s regulation of its’ water resources.

After the hearing Blackburn said, “We are pleased the Court agreed our case should move forward. In a case with international implications, this is a significant step in TAP’s efforts to protect this magnificent endangered species.”

He continued, “We are now looking forward to commencing discovery, and digging deeply into the scientific merits which will be central to this case.”

The case is currently set for trial on March 2, 2011.

The Aransas Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on water management of the Guadalupe River Basin and bays that represents all interests throughout the basin, all the way to the bay. TAP is an alliance of municipalities, businesses, organizations, and citizens working to ensure freshwater flows to the bays and estuaries that protect the winter habitat of the endangered whooping crane.

In March 2010, TAP filed a federal lawsuit against several officials of TCEQ in their official capacities for illegal harm and harassment of Whooping Cranes at and adjacent to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in violation of the Endangered Species Act. TAP seeks a process to ensure the Crane’s habitat and food sources in the bays and estuaries are protected during times of low flows.

Read the entire article »