Description: Challenge to biological opinions issued in connection with groundwater pumping by a U.S. Army base in southeastern Arizona.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/21/2022 Notice of Appeal Notice of appeal filed by federal defendants. 05/27/2022 Notice of Appeal Notice of appeal filed by Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Maricopa Audubon Society. 03/31/2022 Order Download Parties' motions for summary judgment granted in part and denied in part. Arizona Federal Court Rejected Claims of Inadequate Climate Change Analysis in Challenge to Biological Opinion for Fort’s Groundwater Pumping. The federal district court for the District of Arizona ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Fort Huachuca to reinitiate formal consultation under Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act regarding the effects of groundwater pumping but rejected conservation groups’ contention that a 2014 biological opinion failed to consider the cumulative effects of the Fort’s groundwater pumping and climate change. The court found that after evaluating “all the evidence … and not[ing] how climate change would affect the listed species and critical habitat,” the FWS “concluded that the impact of climate change was difficult to quantify because of the various complicated factors at play.” The court found that the FWS “did not merely abdicate responsibility by claiming ‘scientific uncertainty,’” stating that while the defendants “were required to consider the effects of climate change,” they did not have “to quantify the combined decreased baseflow from the Fort’s action and decreased precipitation due to climate change.” The court further found that the agencies did not have to look beyond 2030 and that the agencies “formed a rational connection between the data available and the choices made.” 06/07/2021 Reply Download Reply filed by defendants in support of cross-motion for summary judgment. 03/26/2021 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Defendants filed combined cross-motion for summary judgment and opposition to plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. 03/13/2020 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit in Arizona Federal Court Asserted That Biological Opinions Failed to Consider Climate Change in Analysis of Military Base’s Impacts. Two plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court in Arizona seeking to set aside biological opinions that concluded that groundwater pumping by a U.S. Army base in southeastern Arizona was not likely to jeopardize any endangered species that rely on the San Pedro River or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. The complaint included nine causes of action under the Endangered Species Act, including one for failing to address the impacts species would face from climate change and failing entirely to analyze climate change in connection with the base’s operations. Another cause of action asserted that consultation under the Endangered Species Act should have been reinitiated, due in part to new information showing that climate change “has had a more rapid and severe impact in the Southwest than anticipated.”