Winner, 2017 Next Generation INDIE Book Awards Grand Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book
Winner, 2017 Next Generation INDIE Book Awards in the Science/Nature/Environment category
Finalist, Forest History Society Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award
Finalist, 2016 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year in the Ecology/Environment Category
Finalist, 2016 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year in the History Category
Inside the Equal Access to Justice Act: Environmental Litigation and the Crippling Battle over America's Lands, Endangered Species, and Critical Habitats
By Lowell E. Baier | January 1, 2016
In this ground-breaking history of the role of litigation in American natural resources management, author, attorney, and legal and environmental historian Lowell Baier argues that environmental litigation can, when taken too far, paralyze America’s natural resource management agencies. Many lawsuits are designed to disrupt agencies over procedural issues like missed deadlines and scientific opinions. Federal agencies originally had clear mandates, but their missions became muddled due to numerous laws passed in the 1960s-‘70s, such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973. These laws are used by a small group of radical environmental fundamentalists far outside of the mainstream, which can so overwhelm agencies that privately negotiated legal settlements control substantial portions of the regulatory state, in direct violation of the principles of Congressional decision making, transparency, and sound public policy.
A broad coalition of federal, state, and private stakeholders has come together to fight this practice, using cooperative conservation to protect land and wildlife without relying on the courts. This book explores the century-long story of America’s natural resources management, focusing on litigation, citizen suit provisions, and attorneys’ fees. It highlights the 1980 Equal Access to Justice Act, a little-known but important law intended to support veterans, the disabled, and small business, but now hijacked by green litigants to fund their agenda. It calls on America to support cooperative conservation and reform the Equal Access to Justice Act.
Inside the Equal Access to Justice Act is the first book-length exhaustive examination of the Equal Access to Justice Act and environmental litigation. The book:
- Presents original, primary-source research on the development and enactment of the Equal Access to Justice Act.
- Describes the history of use of the Equal Access to Justice Act, examining the many beneficiaries of the law, including small businesses, veterans, Social Security beneficiaries, native peoples, immigrants, and environmental groups, and how and why each group uses the law.
- Contextualizes the problem of environmental litigation by looking at its historic, legislative, and common law roots.
- Explores the participants in environmental litigation, examining in depth the founding, history, funding, philosophy, and motivations of 20 of the most litigious environmental groups in America.
- Provides an in-depth look at litigation under the Endangered Species Act, analyzing how it consumes agency budgets, slows down economic development, sets the stage for more litigation, and often does not benefit species.
- Discusses solutions to Endangered Species Act listing, including a detailed look at the emerging practice of voluntary pre-listing collaborative conservation, emphasizing recent examples such as the lesser prairie chicken, greater sage grouse, and related species.
- Examines the role of attorneys’ fees payments generally, and Equal Access to Justice Act payments specifically, on environmental litigation and on natural resources management agencies and their budgets.
- Chronicles efforts from 2010-2015 and ongoing to make amendments to the Equal Access to Justice Act.
- Recommends carefully tailored amendments to the Equal Access to Justice Act to correct environmental abuses of the law while protecting legitimate interests, and provides a model law.
As a result of Inside the Equal Access to Justice Act and efforts by Baier and other advocates, Congress in 2019 passed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which included an amendment to the Equal Access to Justice Act that has brought transparency to the law and restored part of the original intent of Congress when it passed the law in 1980. Yet as Baier cogently explains in this book, there is more work yet to be done.
Lowell Baier has been a lifelong champion for conservation carrying on the legacy of President Teddy Roosevelt, and this book on America’s lands litigation is a must read for all who care about the conservation of our wonderful national crown jewels.
Kenneth L. Salazar
Former Secretary of the Interior and Senator (D) from Colorado
We have here a book of truth and power. Lowell Baier in his thoughtful and powerful publication shows our history—first of abuse and more recently of our effort to protect this magnificent country and world.
John D. Dingell, Jr.
43rd Dean, U.S. House of Representatives
Representative from Michigan (D-12th) 1955-2014
This masterful work of scholarship flawlessly proves that today’s new paradigm of cooperative conservation and federalism in endangered species conservation is a far more responsible endeavor with measurable results than can ever be achieved by combative saturation litigation and court intervention.
Theodore Roosevelt, IV
Barclays Capital Clean Tech Initiative
"Lowell E. Baier's Inside the Equal Access to Justice Act is an important history of how American land conservation battles have played out in courts. All environmentalists should read this well written book. Highly recommended!"
Dr. Douglas Brinkley, a prominent presidential historian is Professor of History at Rice University, and is the author of 24 books including his most recent Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of Americaand Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America. He has edited 5 additional books.
With more than 1,100 species currently under court-ordered consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act, Lowell Baier’s powerful research forces all conservationists to question the efficacy of the current system and whether a more scientific and collaborative approach would produce better results for wildlife in the 21st Century.
President and CEO
National Wildlife Federation
Minutely and extraordinarily researched, masterfully written in a voice that rings with authority from a tremendous depth of knowledge, it will transform your view of environmental litigation and its politics and players.
Dr. Jack Ward Thomas
U.S. Forest Service
“This book is the story of how decades of aggressive environmental litigation have eroded the core missions, expertise and effectiveness of America’s land, wildlife and water management agencies. It poses the serious question of how the public land mass comprising one-third of the United States can be effectively managed in the 21st century, and the consequences the remaining two-thirds will suffer from unchecked litigation.”
Representative Cynthia M. Lummis, (R) Wyoming