Avoiding Jeopardy, Without the Questions: Recovery Implementation Programs for Endangered Species in Western River Basins
2 Mich. J. of Envt'l & Admin. L. 473
62 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2012 Last revised: 24 Jan 2014
Date Written: 2013
This article addresses Recovery Implementation Programs (RIPs) for endangered species in the context of four western river basins where the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) is a key water supplier and manager. Rather than focus in detail on any particular program, this article addresses these RIPs as a group, representing an alternative approach to Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance that has taken root in the western water context. Part I of this article provides context, outlining federal and state roles regarding water resources in the West. Part II explains the requirements of the ESA, focusing on federal agency obligations under § 7, and summarizing three situations where these requirements have applied to USBR project operations. Part III explains the structure, purposes, and elements of four RIPs; examines some key differences between these programs and the usual ESA approach in the water context; and notes the success of these programs in legal terms. Part IV attempts to answer three broad questions about the RIPs: why they have caught on in the western water context, whether they can actually recover species, and whether they are likely to become even more popular.
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