Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and the Art of Compromise: The Evolution of a Reasonable and Prudent Alternative for the Animas-La Plata Project
Posted: 29 Nov 2001
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is responsible for implementing one of the most powerful and controversial environmental statutes in the United States today: Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits federal actions likely to further jeopardize a species listed under the Act. Because of a variety of political and institutional constraints, however, the agency has had a difficult time implementing the statute forcefully. After reviewing the Section 7 consultation process and the evolution of the "reasonable and prudent alternative" (RPA) concept, the article takes an in-depth look at the Section 7 consultation process for the proposed Animas-La Plata Project on the San Juan River and at some of the problems surrounding the resulting RPA. Several institutional constraints confronting the FWS are identified, and suggestions are made for strengthening the agency's position during the Section 7 implementation process.
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