ESA Legislation Proposed to Prohibit Certain Settlements and Awards

Yesterday, a Republican Senator from Texas, John Cornyn, introduced a bill (pdf) that would prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from settling environmental lawsuits without first publishing the complaint "in a readily accessible manner, including electronically," and allowing "affected parties" an opportunity to intervene.  The bill further provides that the filing of any motion to dismiss or for entry of a consent decree based on a settlement agreement shall be prohibited until after affected parties have had a "reasonable opportunity" to intervene.  Should a party intervene, the bill would compel the courts to refer the parties, including all that intervened, to either a mediation program of the court or a magistrate judge.  The bill would also prohibit any award of litigation costs for certain "covered settlements," and prohibit the courts from approving a "covered settlement" until the settlement is approved by each state and county in which the Secretary of the Interior believes a species occurs.

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