No Fertile Ground for Mediating the Lawsuitby Bill Rudolph
NW Fishletter, December 20, 2001
Meanwhile, the lawsuit filed in May by environmental and fishing groups against NMFS over the new hydro BiOp was percolating out of public view while an environmental facilitation group completed its report to the federal judge to assess the potential for mediation in the case. A confidential draft assessment was being circulated by the group, but parties wouldn't comment on particulars during the final comment and feedback period. The final assessment was scheduled to be completed by Dec. 7. Nothing has been officially announced, but it was been reported that the group did not find fertile ground for mediating the lawsuit and was going to recommend that it not be used as a way to settle the complaint.
One of the main targets of the lawsuit is the new BiOp's call for off-site mitigation to improve listed fish stocks--an action that helped NMFS in reaching a "no jeopardy" decision for operation of the federal hydro system. The plaintiffs allege that NMFS has violated Section 7 of the ESA, in part because the NMFS assessment "relies extensively on speculative and voluntary actions by other federal agencies, as well as state and private entities, in areas unrelated to FCRPS operations and beyond the control or authority of the Action Agencies."
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