If you aren’t reading Dave Owen’s blog posts over at Environmental Law Prof Blog, you should be. His most recent post is about a recent Endangered Species Act (ESA) case in Texas: Environmental plaintiffs sued, arguing that the state of Texas had allowed too many water withdrawals upstream from the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, a critical breeding site for the endangered whooping crane. The plaintiffs won in the district court, but Dave does a great job of pointing out what that victory took: lots and lots of data collection by the plaintiffs, and a judge who cared.
There’s a bigger lesson from this case. Doing environmental law well usually requires lots of information. But as I’ve noted elsewhere, there are lots of reasons why that data might not be collected or used well. The Aransas case is a great example of that point.