Land Commissioner and Bush family scion George P. is living up to his family legacy of being water boys for powerful corporate interests by leading a push to make it more difficult to add species to the national Endangered Species List. And in doing so – George P. attacks the most endangered species in Texas – the trial lawyer. Thanks largely to Uncle George W.’s demagoguery and kowtowing to the insurance and medical lobby, the rights of Texas citizens to a fair trial have never been in more danger. So George P. jumps on the bandwagon in paying obeisance to his corporate masters by attacking lawyers and sucking up to the Tea Party base. The Texas Tribune has the full story.
The son of GOP presidential hopeful and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is leading an alliance of 23 state land commissioners in a charge against the Endangered Species Act, calling for more transparency on how animals are added to the federal endangered list.
In question is a practice known “sue and settle” under which environmental advocates sue the federal government if it misses deadlines to respond to their petitions seeking to name a new endangered species. To avoid long court trials, agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service sometimes enter into settlements with the environmental groups filing the petitions. The end result, Bush claims, is species ending up on the list without sufficient scientific basis, and taxpayers end up footing the legal bills of both parties.
“The Endangered Species Act was designed to preserve biodiversity, not enrich trial lawyers and political activists,” Bush said in a statement. “It’s time to prioritize scientific assessments in conservation when dealing with property rights and our national security.”
But environmental groups that file such suits call those accusations unfair. Federal wildlife agencies can enter into settlements because its cheaper than trial and agencies often have to pay legal fees of the winning party if they lose a lawsuit under the Equal Access to Justice Act. This applies to more than just environmental plaintiffs.
Winning a settlement doesn’t guarantee an animal a spot on the endangered list. It only forces the agency to make a decision, which typically doesn’t come for months, or even years, after a settlement is reached, said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“Fish and Wildlife Service sometimes just doesn’t act unless they’re sued,” Greenwald said. “They have to get sued in order to list those species.”
In a resolution brought by Bush and adopted by the Western States Land Commissioners Association, the officials ask Congress to enact legislation requiring federal agencies to report legal expenses on “sue and settle” cases and relax the deadlines leading to such suits.
The settlements lead to “a flood of litigation,” Bush said, and the tactic “lines environmental groups’ pockets by looting the national treasury.”
Okay, George P. – how about ceasing a baseless smear job and coming up with some actual facts? Since when is filing a legal lawsuit considered a criminal offense – i.e. looting? Name one trial lawyer who has gotten rich filing these types of lawsuits? Tell me whose pockets have been lined? And what they did with the money? And by the way, who has been lining your campaign pockets? Would it by any chance be people who have the most to gain from a roll back of protection for endangered species?