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National Wildlife Federation and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Association of Homebuilders

345 F. Supp. 2d 1151 (2004)

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National Wildlife Federation and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Association of Homebuilders

United States District Court for the Western District of Washington

345 F. Supp. 2d 1151 (2004)

Facts

In 1968, Congress charged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (defendant) with administering the National Flood Insurance Program (the program). FEMA’s implementation of the program encouraged development within floodplains and consisted of multiple components, including identifying flood-prone communities, establishing safety criteria for states and municipalities to adopt, establishing a flood-insurance program, implementing a community rating system to evaluate flood plans, and overseeing community participation in the program. The National Wildlife Federation and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (collectively, the environmental groups) (plaintiffs) filed an action against FEMA and the National Association of Homebuilders (collectively, FEMA) (defendants). The environmental groups claimed that FEMA had violated § 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (the act) by not consulting with the National Marine Fisheries Service (the service) regarding how the program’s implementation might affect Puget Sound chinook salmon, which was a threatened species. The environmental groups argued that the program had the potential to affect the salmon because it encouraged development in floodplain areas, which reduced the salmon’s habitat. The environmental groups sought a declaration that FEMA violated § 7(a)(2), an injunction requiring FEMA to consult with the service, and for the court to retain jurisdiction to ensure that FEMA lawfully implemented the program. FEMA argued that the environmental groups lacked standing and that it was not required to consult the service because it had no reason to believe that the salmon would be affected. The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington considered the case.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Zilly, J.)

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