PLAINTIFF THE ARANSAS PROJECT’S - TAP's...THE ARANSAS PROJECT, Plaintiff, v. BRYAN SHAW, ... MARY

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Text of PLAINTIFF THE ARANSAS PROJECT’S - TAP's...THE ARANSAS PROJECT, Plaintiff, v. BRYAN SHAW, ... MARY

  • IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS

    CORPUS CHRISTI DIVISION

    THE ARANSAS PROJECT, Plaintiff, v. BRYAN SHAW, ET AL., Defendants.

    CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:10-cv-00075

    PLAINTIFF THE ARANSAS PROJECTS CONSOLIDATED RESPONSE TO POST-TRIAL BRIEFS

    JAMES B. BLACKBURN, JR. Attorney in charge TBN 02388500 Southern District of Texas Bar No. 7416 CHARLES IRVINE TBN 24055716 Southern District of Texas Bar No. 675029 MARY B. CONNER TBN 24050440 Southern District of Texas Bar No. 1093200 BLACKBURN CARTER, P.C. 4709 Austin Street Houston, Texas 77004 713/524-1012 713/524-5165 (fax)

    OF COUNSEL: Jeffery Mundy TBN 14665575 Southern District of Texas Bar No. 10632 The Mundy Firm PLLC 8911 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Suite 2105 Austin, Texas 78759 512/334-4300 512/334-4256 (fax)

    OF COUNSEL: David A. Kahne TBN 00790129 Southern District of Texas Bar No. 17432 LAW OFFICE OF DAVID A. KAHNE P.O. Box 66386 Houston, Texas 77266 713/652-3966 713/652-5773 (fax)

    Filed: May 9, 2012 Counsel for Plaintiff, The Aransas Project

    Case 2:10-cv-00075 Document 325 Filed in TXSD on 05/09/12 Page 1 of 56

  • TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLE OF AUTHORITIES ......................................................................................................... iii

    I. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................. 1

    II. THE DEATH OF 23 WHOOPING CRANES AT ARANSAS IN 2008-2009 ...................... 2

    A. Contrary to Defendants arguments, the great weight of evidence at trial demonstrated that 23 cranes died. ..................................................................................................................... 3

    1. It is impossible that Mr. Stehn missed 23 birds. ............................................................. 3

    2. Defendants fervent wish for 23 carcasses does not comport with what happens in the wild. ........................................................................................................................................ 7

    3. Defendants theory that the dead birds from 2008-2009 returned the following year is simply wrong....................................................................................................................... 8

    B. Defendants representations concerning the USFWS counts should be carefully scrutinized................................................................................................................................... 9

    III. LEGAL STANDARDS ON PROOF AND CAUSATION.............................................. 12

    A. The burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence..................................................... 12

    B. The ESA uses ordinary requirements of proximate cause. ............................................... 12

    C. Proximate cause may be proven with either direct or circumstantial evidence. ............... 13

    D. Causation under the ESA may be either indirect or deliberate. ................................. 14

    E. Habitat modification is an indirect take. ........................................................................... 15

    F. Proof of a population level effect is not required in the Fifth Circuit, but even if it were, TAP easily meets this standard. ................................................................................................ 17

    IV. RESPONSE TO ARGUMENTS ON CAUSATION ....................................................... 18

    A. Defendants failed to rebut or to discuss, and therefore concede, the strong statistical correlation between low freshwater flows and high Whooping Crane mortality. .................... 19

    B. TAP proved each of the elements required to demonstrate that TCEQ Defendants proximately caused a prohibited take. ...................................................................................... 21

    1. The State Defendants have authority to regulate State-owned surface waters. ............ 21

    a) Plain statutory text expressly grants TCEQ authority over water regulation and, therefore, the power to comply with the ESA................................................................... 22

    b) Certificates of adjudication and permits expressly reserve TCEQ supervisory authority over diversions................................................................................................... 24

    c) National Association of Homebuilders is inapposite................................................ 25

    2. State regulation is the cause of reduced freshwater inflows. ........................................ 26

    3. Water diversions affected salinities, which significantly modified habitat. ................. 28

    i.

    Case 2:10-cv-00075 Document 325 Filed in TXSD on 05/09/12 Page 2 of 56

  • 4. Modified habitat resulted in reduced availability of blue crabs, wolfberries, and drinking water. ...................................................................................................................... 31

    5. Modified habitat caused injury and death to the Whooping Cranes. ............................ 32

    C. Defendants alternative explanations do not undercut TAPs proof at trial. .................... 37

    1. Speculation related to Crane mortality. ........................................................................ 38

    2. Theories related to increased salinity............................................................................ 39

    3. Theories related to decrease in wolfberry and blue crab abundance ............................ 40

    4. Theories related to reasons Whooping Cranes leave territories.................................... 42

    V. RESPONSE TO ARGUMENTS ON REMEDY.................................................................. 43

    A. TCEQ powers support use of an HCP and, Defendants protests notwithstanding, allow regulation of water use under permits, to protect Cranes. ........................................................ 44

    B. TCEQs heads-in-the-sand approach deserves no deference. ........................................... 46

    C. A judgment by this Court in TAPs favor would not be pointless. ............................... 47

    D. The TCEQ Defendants proposed remedies are by themselves insufficient. ................... 48

    E. Ultimately, the TCEQ Defendants must comply with federal law. .................................. 48

    VI. RESPONSE TO ARGUMENTS ON STANDING .......................................................... 49

    VII. CONCLUSION................................................................................................................. 50

    ii.

    Case 2:10-cv-00075 Document 325 Filed in TXSD on 05/09/12 Page 3 of 56

  • TABLE OF AUTHORITIES

    pageCASES

    Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter of Communities for a Great Oregon, 515 U.S. 687 (1995)...............................................................................................................12, 14

    Brady v. Fourteenth Court of Appeals, 795 S.W.2d 712 (Tex. 1990) ...................................23

    Matter of Briscoe Enterprises, Ltd, 994 F.2d 1160 (5th Cir. 1993) .....................................12

    Coalition for a Sustainable Delta v. McCamman, 725 F. Supp. 2d 1162 (E.D. Cal. 2010)..................................................................................17

    Cold Mountain v. Garber, 375 F.3d 884 (9th Cir. 2004).......................................................14

    Defenders of Wildlife v. EPA, 882 F.2d 1294 (8th Cir. 1989) ...............................................49

    In re Enron Corp. Securities, Derivative & ERISA Litigation, 623 F. Supp. 2d 798 (S.D. Tex. 2009) ...................................................................................12, 13

    Greenpeace v. Mineta, 122 F. Supp. 2d 1123 (D. Haw. 2000)..............................................16

    Gutierrez v. Excel Corp., 106 F.3d 683 (5th Cir. 1997) ........................................................12, 13

    Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533 U.S. 525 (2001)...........................................................48

    Lower Colorado River Authority v. Texas Dept. of Water Resources, 638 S.W.2d 557 (Tex. App.Austin 1982) ..........................................................................24

    Marbled Murrelet v. Babbitt, 83 F.3d 1060, 1067-68 (9th Cir. 1996)...................................13

    Morris v. Jones, 329 U.S. 545 (1947)....................................................................................48

    National Association of Homebuilders v. Defenders of Wildlife, 551 U.S. 644 (2007)...............................................................................................................21, 25

    North Carolina Board of Education v. Swann, 402 U.S. 43 (1971) ......................................26

    Pacific Rivers Council v. Brown, 2002 WL 32356431 (D. Or. Dec. 23, 2002) ....................26

    Seattle Audubon Society v. Sutherland, 2007 WL 1577756 (W.D. Wash. 2007)..................26

    Sierra Club v. Froehlke, 534 F.2d 1289 (8th Cir. 1976) .......................................................12

    Sierra Club v. Lyng, 694 F. Supp. 1260 (E.D. Tex. 1988) ....................................................13

    Sierra Club v. Yeutter, 926 F.2d 429 (5th Cir. 1991) ............................................................13

    Strahan v. Coxe, 127 F.3d 155 (1st Cir. 1997) ......................................................................14, 49

    Strahan v. Pritchard, 473 F. Supp. 2d 230 (D.