Description: Challenge to the management of Lake Okeechobee under the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS).
Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/28/2020 Order Download Failure to reinitiate consultation found to be arbitrary and capricious. Florida Federal Court Said Federal Defendants Must Reinitiate Endangered Species Act Consultation to Consider Impact of Lake Okeechobee Releases on Manatees. The federal district court for the Southern District of Florida held that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously when they failed to reinitiate consultation under the Endangered Species Act regarding the effects of red and blue-green algae on endangered West Indian Manatees in connection with releases from Lake Okeechobee under the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS). The decision does not mention climate change, but the plaintiffs’ allegations included that past analyses of LORS under the ESA “entirely failed to consider how climate change might affect LORS and harmful algal blooms.” The plaintiffs also asserted a claim under the National Environmental Policy Act that was not a subject of this decision. 06/11/2019 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Environmental Groups Charged Federal Agencies with Ongoing Failure to Consider Information on Climate Change Impacts on Lake Okeechobee and Downstream Waters. Three environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Southern District of Florida asserting that the federal defendants were violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by continuing to manage Lake Okeechobee under the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) and allowing “unmitigated releases of Lake Okeechobee water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries.” The plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that past analyses of LORS under NEPA and the ESA “entirely failed to consider how climate change might affect LORS and harmful algal blooms.” They asserted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was violating NEPA by failing to supplement its LORS NEPA analysis with “significant new information” regarding climate change impacts and toxic algae. They also asserted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service were violating the ESA and the APA by failing to consider climate change effects.