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Judge puts endangered species agreement on hold

May 17, 2011 |  2:24 pm

A federal judge on Tuesday put a hold on an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an environmental group that would have removed the perpetual log jam that hinders protection for threatened and endangered species.

U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan stayed the agreement made last week between WildEarth Guardians and the Wildlife Service until June 20 and ordered the parties to hash out a new agreement, this time to include another environmental organization -- the Center For Biological Diversity.

The agreement was hailed as a landmark of cooperation that would have moved 839 candidate species toward federal protection. That petition process can take decades, slowed both by the federal agency's admitted lack of staff and money to process applications and by the enormous backlog of lawsuits that accompany the applications.

The Center for Biological Diversity -- which is usually at the forefront of taking the government to court for failing to protect species -- opposed the agreement and claimed it was "too weak, too vague" and was ultimately not enforceable.

-- Julie Cart

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