Oklahoma AG And Energy Group Sue U.S. Government Over Endangered Species Settlements

Mar 18, 2014

The Lesser Prairie Chicken
Credit USDAgov / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance on Monday filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of “colluding” with environmental groups to bypass public rule-making procedures to enact endangered species regulations.

The lawsuit is Pruitt’s latest salvo against so-called “sue and settle” techniques, wherein agencies are accused of reaching friendly settlements of lawsuits filed by special-interest groups. Pruitt and Domestic Energy Partners — an Oklahoma-based group representing oil and gas companies and royalty owners — say those settlements amount to using the court system to cut state regulators and other interested parties out of the rule-making process.

The lawsuit stems from a settlement reached in a 2010 lawsuit by Wild Earth Guardians, “which alleged the Fish and Wildlife Service did not meet deadlines in determining the listing of 251 species,” The Oklahoman‘s Jay Marks reports.

The federal agencies’ settlements, Pruitt argues, would undermine a $26 million conservation plan the “State of Oklahoma, along with other states and private industry” were considering for the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

“Oklahoma has indicated its willingness to protect the lesser prairie chicken but it seems increasingly clear this issue isn’t about sound science or saving endangered species. Using the courts to impose regulations undermines the rule of law,” Pruitt said in a statement.


StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.