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Oklahoma Attorney General, energy group sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over endangered species settlements

Oklahoma and an energy producers group filed a lawsuit over how federal agencies have handled potential endangered species listings for several animals that live in the state.
By Jay F. Marks, Business Writer Published: March 17, 2014
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The state of Oklahoma and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance filed a lawsuit Monday, accusing the federal government of conspiring with environmental groups to pass endangered species regulations behind closed doors.

The lawsuit is critical of how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service circumvented the public rule-making process by entering private settlements with “special interest litigants.” It was filed Monday in federal court in Tulsa.

“Increasingly, federal agencies are colluding with like-minded special interest groups by using ‘sue and settle’ tactics to reach ‘friendly settlements’ of lawsuits filed by the interest groups,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a news release. “These settlements, which often impose tougher regulations and shorter timelines than those imposed by Congress, are having a crippling effect on the U.S. economy.”

Pruitt cites a 2010 lawsuit by Wild Earth Guardians, which alleged the Fish and Wildlife Service did not meet deadlines in determining the listing of 251 species.

That lawsuit resulted in a consent decree that accelerated the determination process of those species, including the lesser prairie chicken.

Oklahoma land use at risk

The Fish and Wildlife Service is supposed to decide by March 31 whether the lesser prairie chicken should be listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

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