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Citing ‘Killing a Mockingbird’, Judge Strikes Trump Administration Back for Implementing Historic Bird Protection Law



Tuesday’s decision was the latest legal hurdle for the Trump administration as it has tried to systematically weaken or overturn the results of federal environmental defenses. In its decision, Caproni said the administration had gone too far.

“There is nothing in the MBTA text that suggests that in order to fall under its ban, the activity should focus specifically on birds,” wrote Caproni, who was appointed to New York Southern District by President Obama in 2012. ”

; “The statute does not only prohibit the deliberate killing of migratory birds. And it certainly does not say that only ‘some’ killings are prohibited.”

The changes made by the Trump administration have mainly benefited oil companies, which have paid most of the fines for violating the act, according to an analysis by the National Audubon Association.

In the opinion of the administration, even BP, the company responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the deaths of about 1 million birds, will not be responsible for the punishment under the law. A landowner who destroys endangered owl nests without checking it before building a barn or an oil company that fails to cover a tar pit where birds can dive in and die cannot be held accountable as they have for decades.

Caproni determined that allowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service police to enforce the act only if officials could establish intent was a violation of Federal Administrative Procedure Act and cease the changes. In mitigating the rule change, she warned the Home Office with a passage from “Killing a Mockingbird.”

“It is not only a sin to kill a mockery, but it is also a crime,” Caproni wrote. “This has been the letter of the law for the last century. But if the Home Office has its way, many mocking animals and other migratory birds that please humans and support ecosystems across the country will be killed without legal consequences.”

Eight state attorneys challenged the administration when they weakened the act two years ago. Led by then-New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, the coalition includes top attorneys in Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, California and New Mexico.

The court joined their lawsuit with another challenge posed by the Audubon National Society and many other conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity.

“This is a huge victory for birds and it comes at a critical time – science tells us that we have lost 3 billion birds in less than one human life and that two-thirds of North American birds are in danger of extinction. due to climate change, “said Sarah Greenberger, interim chief conservation officer for the Audubon National Society, in a statement.

Home Office spokesman Conner Swanson defended the rule change. “Today’s opinion undermines an interpretation of the common sense of the law and runs counter to recent attempts, divided across the political spectrum, to decriminalize deliberate behavior,” he wrote in an email.

The Trump administration has suffered numerous losses in its attempt to elaborate long-standing environmental protections, calling them huge demands that were hurting industry and development.

In February, a federal judge in Idaho placed nearly 1 million acres of oil and gas leases on federal lands in the West, echoing an earlier ruling saying the Trump administration was “arbitrary and capricious” in the way it restricted the entry of the public on those leases.

In the weeks leading up to the change in the Bird Migrant Treaty Act rule, the administration lost three court cases in three consecutive days. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Columbia Circuit County ruled in 2018 that the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to delay new chemical and safety requirements was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The day before, a judge at the U.S. District Court in South Carolina reinstated a rule in 26 states restricting the immersion and filling of streams and watercourses on the grounds that the EPA had not sought sufficient public input. Prior to that, a judge in the U.S. District Court in Montana ordered the State Department to develop a broader environmental impact statement of the proposed Keystone XL route through Nebraska.

The Bird Migration Treaty Act of 1918 was passed after some common bird species became extinct. The administration’s action reversed decades of efforts by Republican and Democratic administrations to protect animals as they navigate the world. The law covers such diverse birds as eagles, red knots, Canada geese, and volcanoes.

Oil companies were the biggest beneficiaries of the new interpretation, according to an analysis by the Audubon Society. They were responsible for 90 percent of the case measures prosecuted under this act, resulting in a $ 6,500 fine for the violation. Two catastrophic oil spills, BP Deepwater Horizon spilled Louisiana in 2010 and the Exxon Valdez oil depot was destroyed by Alaska in 1989, accounting for 97 percent of fines, according to the Audubon Association.

In the crackdown on the Department of State rule change, Caproni was pushed into the way Congress drafted the law. “It will be illegal to hunt, to take, to catch, to kill, to try to take, to catch or to kill … in any way … at any time or in any way, any migratory bird, i included under the terms of the convention between the United States and the United Kingdom on the protection of migratory birds, “she said.

Caproni made a proposal to state attorneys and conservatives to overturn the Home Office decision. Home Office attorneys tried to delay the court’s remedy for undermining Congress’ will when it passed the Bird Migration Treaty Act and amended it throughout the years. The judge rejected that attempt.

“The interior does not represent an indication that emptying the Opinion will disrupt the agency’s implementation or other efforts,” she wrote.

“The court ruling is a ring victory for conservatives who have struggled to support the historic interpretation of the Bird Migration Treaty Act to protect migratory birds from industrial damage,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and chief executive of the ombudsman. wild. statement.

Clark called the federal action a misguided move that “would leave the fate of more than 1,000 bird species in the hands of industry.”


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