Description: Challenge to temporary sea walls on beaches in South Carolina.
Sierra Club v. Von Kolnitz
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/14/2017 Order Download Preliminary injunction granted and motion to dismiss denied. South Carolina Federal Court Ordered Removal of Sea Walls That Interfered with Sea Turtle Nesting. The federal district court for the District of South Carolina granted a motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered that temporary sea walls be removed from beaches in South Carolina and remain removed during the nesting period of sea turtles. The court found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their argument that the sea walls interfered with the nesting activities of endangered sea turtles and that the state authorization of the sea walls constituted a “take” under the Endangered Species Act. The court also found that the plaintiffs had established irreparable harm; that the balance of the equities tipped in their favor (here, the court said it was skeptical that the sea walls effectively prevented erosion); and that an injunction would be in the public interest. The court also denied a motion to dismiss, finding that dismissal on Burford abstention grounds due to ongoing state administrative proceedings was not justified. The court said that although “protecting coastal real estate from sea level rise and extreme climate events such as hurricanes is an important state policy,” abstention was not required merely because resolution of the federal question would result in overturning state policy. The court found that the defendants’ attempt to frame the issue as a local matter fell short since protection of endangered species was a matter of national concern. 12/06/2016 Complaint Download Complaint filed.