A federal judge ruled last week that a federal agency’s actions to improve habitats for endangered species along the Missouri River exacerbated floods, causing damage to local farmers whose land was temporarily inundated. Although this was only the first part of a multiphase case, if the ruling is upheld it could undermine future river restoration efforts nationwide and stymie enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by forcing the government to pay damages to any landowner affected by environmental restoration activities.Music to my ears!!!
“The implications of this ruling are huge,” says Brad Walker, who headed river restoration efforts for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment in St. Louis before retiring earlier this month. “It’s attacking the heart of the legitimacy and reason for doing river restoration.” If the ruling is upheld in the next phase of the case, which is anything but certain, “it would effectively kill the application of the Endangered Species Act,” says John Echeverria, an environmental lawyer at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton.
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