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How ESA lawsuits can affect California landowners and developers

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2023 | Environmental Law

If you’re a landowner, developer or industry professional in California, you may be concerned about the potential for citizens’ lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA is a federal environmental law that aims to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

The basics of Endangered Species Act citizens’ lawsuits

Under the ESA, any person may bring a civil suit in federal court against anyone who violates the statute. This provision has been used extensively by environmental law groups and others to challenge land use decisions, construction projects and other activities that may impact endangered species.

Compliance with the ESA

To demonstrate compliance with the statute and that your actions do not put an endangered or threatened species in harm’s way, the following are often required:

  • Conducting a thorough environmental review
  • Engaging in conservation efforts
  • Working closely with regulatory agencies

Fostering goodwill within the environmental community

It may also be a good idea to show that you are addressing specific potential environmental issues.

Including stakeholders early in the planning process may also be of benefit. Building strong relationships with local communities and environmental organizations can also show a willingness to foster greater collaboration in achieving conservation goals. It may even be a good idea to bring on an environmental consultant.

Relevant laws and compliance

While facing an ESA lawsuit may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that, with the right approach, it is possible to achieve a potentially successful outcome. By working to stay compliant with the ESA and implementing best practices for environmental conservation, you can help mitigate the risk of facing a citizen’s lawsuit. Additionally, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with changes to the ESA and the regulatory landscape as this can help inform your decision-making and approach to environmental compliance.