The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has sued six federal agencies for failing to respond to its petition proposing regulatory changes aimed to improve the endangered species program and increase consideration of global warming. The CBD originally submitted the petition to seven agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in February 2007. After receiving only one response from the Department of Energy in nearly two years, the CBD filed suit in a federal court in Washington, D.C. to compel responses from the remaining agencies.
The CBD argues that the agencies’ failure to respond violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) which requires an agency to conclude such matters within a “reasonable time.” It asserts that “[t]wo years is an unreasonable delay under the APA . . . for an agency to completely fail to reply and/or respond to a petition, particularly one on a topic as urgent as global warming and its impact upon plant and animal species threatened with extinction.”
According to the complaint, the EPA did respond with a letter in March 2007 indicating that several of its agencies were reviewing the petition’s suggestions. Despite the CBD’s argument that the response does not amount to an answer, the letter will likely complicate the suit as to the EPA.
This lawsuit could provide a gateway for the new Obama administration to swift action on endangered species and global warming regulations within the defendant agencies.