High Court Limits Endangered Species Act
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR's John Nielsen has more.
JOHN NIELSEN: The other federal law is the Clean Water Act. It allows the environmental protection agency to turn over the power to grant water permits to states, like Arizona, which is a good idea in principle, according to Bob Irwin of Defenders of Wildlife. Unfortunately...
BOB IRWIN: The state of Arizona will issue a permit and the state of Arizona is not under an obligation to consult under the Endangered Species Act before issuing those permits.
NIELSEN: EPA lawyers said the Clean Air Act did not allow them to attach legal strings. And now the high court has agreed. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito argued that in this case the Clean Water Act trumps the Endangered Species Act. Irwin of Defenders of Wildlife called it a ruling that would produce more sprawl and more environmental problems.
IRWIN: We're very concerned that today's decision, coupled with the Bush administration's hostility to endangered species protection, could lead to additional species extinction.
NIELSEN: But businessmen like Duane Desiderio of the National Association of Home Builders say talk like that is overblown. First, he says, state and local laws protect endangered species. Also, the feds can jump in later in the process if they feel the species is at risk. In short...
DUANE DESIDERIO: We think the court got the right decision. We think it had a difficult issue before us but it resolved it in a way that does justice to both the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and in a manner that allows our members to house the nation's citizens.
NIELSEN: John Nielsen, NPR News, Washington.
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