Section 7(a)(2) of the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 divides responsibilities concerning protection of endangered species between the secretary of the interior and the secretary of commerce. The statute also requires each federal agency to consult with the relevant secretary in order to ensure that any action funded by the agency would be unlikely to jeopardize the existence or habitat of an endangered or threatened species. In 1978, the two secretaries promulgated a joint resolution stating that the obligations imposed by § 7(a)(2) extended not only to actions taken in the United States but also to actions taken in foreign nations. A revised joint regulation, reinterpreting § 7(a)(2) to require consultation only for actions taken in the United States or on the high seas, was promulgated in 1986. Defenders of Wildlife (DOW), an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and other environmental causes, sued the secretary of the interior, seeking a declaratory judgment that the 1986 regulation erroneously interpreted the geographic scope of § 7(a)(2). DOW also sought an injunction requiring the secretary to develop a new regulation restoring the interpretation set forth in the 1978 regulation. DOW took the position that it should be regarded as having standing to sue because the 1986 regulation's elimination of the consultation requirement concerning actions in foreign nations would hasten the endangerment and possible extinction of certain species, and would thus adversely affect DOW members' ability to observe animals of those species when the members made trips to nations elsewhere in the world. The federal district court denied the secretary's motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether DOW had standing to sue, granted DOW's motion for summary judgment on all issues, and ordered the secretary to develop a revised regulation. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed, the U.S.
Supreme Court granted certiorari. Did DOW possess standing to sue?

  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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