Coalition files lawsuit against federal government for failing to issue a timely determination on beetle’s status.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), American Stewards of Liberty (ASL), and Osage Producers Association have filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding its failure to issue a required 12-month finding on a petition to remove the American burying beetle from the endangered species list.
Today’s action follows IPAA and ASL’s previous filing of a Notice of Intent to sue the Service in February 2017 for violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) based on its failure to render a timely 12-month finding on an August 2015 petition filed with the agency. The Service was required to determine if delisting is “warranted” within 12 months of receipt of the petition, yet it has failed to act.
“It is time for the Fish and Wildlife Service to act on the American burying beetle,” said Dan Naatz, senior vice president of government relations and political affairs at IPAA, after the suit was filed. “Since 1989, the beetle’s listing has been met with criticism for failing to provide the science-based evidence that ESA listings warrant. The Service has had the time to properly review and act on our petition and it’s time to move forward. The economies and communities impacted by this listing deserve it.”
“The Service has prioritized the radical environmental ‘sue and settle’ agenda, which seeks to add more species to the list, over the sound science proving the American burying beetle warrants removal,” commented Margaret Byfield, executive director of American Stewards of Liberty. “The Southwest Regions failure to comply with the law is harming hard working Americans.” Acting Regional Director Joy Nicholopulos informed petitioners in a letter dated April 24, 2017, that the Service was delaying action on the American burying beetle in order to prioritize decisions for the 250 plus species the radical environmental activists have advocated be listed.
“The American burying beetle prospers in Osage County. In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported 57 positive surveys counting 437 American burying beetles,” stated James Sicking, attorney for the Osage Producers Association. “The policies of the Service and the Oklahoma field office regarding the American burying beetle are a major impediment to our members fulfillment of contractual obligations to produce oil and gas for the benefit of the Osage Indian Headlight Holders and the Mineral Estate in general.”
For several years now, IPAA, ASL, and other industry and government groups have called to delist the American burying beetle. In an August 2015 delisting petition, ASL, IPAA, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation demonstrated that the original listing was in error and was rooted in faulty assumptions about the species’ range, distribution, and abundance.
Many land development, agriculture, transportation, and pipeline or utility operations have been delayed or restricted due to the presence of the beetle. Over the last 20 years in the state of Oklahoma alone, the beetle has cost at least $6.5 million in protection efforts, including $1.3 million that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation spent on conservation actions during a six-year period. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own findings, the beetle species is believed to occur in ten states in several distinct geographical regions of the United States: Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Texas.
Learn more about the effort to delist the American burying beetle.
About the Independent Petroleum Association of America
The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) is a national upstream trade association representing thousands of independent oil and natural gas producers and service companies across the United States. Independent producers develop 90 percent of the nation’s oil and natural gas wells. These companies account for 54 percent of America’s oil production, 85 percent of its natural gas production, and support over 2.1 million American jobs. Learn more about IPAA by visiting www.ipaa.org and following @IPAAaccess on Twitter.
About American Stewards of Liberty
American Stewards of Liberty (ASL) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to protecting private property that works closely with local governments and landowners across America, including: County Commissions, Conservation Districts, business owners, family farmers, ranchers, and homeowners who simply want to exercise the right to productively use their land. For more information, visit: www.americanstewards.us.
About the Osage Producers Association
The Osage Producers Association has over 150 members, oil and gas operators and service companies, who operate in Osage County Oklahoma. The Association is a forum and voice on issues vital to the economic interests of its members. This frequently requires objections to the policies, procedures, and regulations administered by the Osage Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.