Back in the spring, the Obama Administration disappointed environmentalists by failing to comply with legally required deadlines for decisions about whether two sea turtles would be listed under the Endangered Species Act. It was the kind of obstruction that environmentalists had assumed would stop once Barack Obama replaced George W. Bush as President.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit to force the Obama Administration to take action. Months later, the ploy has had a positive effect, even if it hasn’t resulted in the long-delayed decision. In a settlement of the lawsuit, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service have agreed to two new deadlines. A decision for leatherbacks will come by December 4 this year. A decision for loggerhead turtles will come by February 19 next year.
The new agreement is progress, but it’s worth remembering that the Bush Administration frequently broke such agreements. If the Obama Administration does the same, all that the Center for Biological Diversity can do is to file suit again, and begin a new, slow legal process while sea turtle populations continue to decline.