Description: Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to produce public records regarding the Florida Keys mole skink and the Service's decision not to list it as endangered or threatened.
Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/16/2020 Order Download Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment granted. Federal Court Found Problems with Assessment of How Sea Level Rise Would Affect Skink Habitat. The federal district court for the Southern District of Florida granted summary judgment to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in a case challenging the Secretary of the Interior’s decision not to list the Florida Keys mole skink as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The skink is a lizard that lives only on islands of the Florida Keys; its habitat is threatened by sea level rise. The court found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not explain why it relied on one set of habitat loss projections while also crediting 2017 projections by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that indicated sea levels were rising 15% faster. The court also found that the FWS needed to explain its conclusion that habitat threats were uniform across the skink’s range notwithstanding non-uniform rates of inundation by sea level rise. The court was not persuaded, however, that the FWS acted arbitrarily and capriciously by limiting the foreseeable future to 2060, though the court said the FWS should consider on remand whether its approach to Geoplan would affect its conclusions regarding the foreseeable future. The court also rejected CBD’s other arguments, including an argument that the FWS disregarded climate change effects other than sea level rise such as storm surge and saltwater intrusion. 07/15/2019 Complaint Download Complaint filed.