Orders Final Rule on Manatee Refuges
Save the Manatee
Club v. Ballard, 215 F. Supp. 2d 88 (D.D.C. 2002).
S. Beth Windham,
Sarah Elizabeth Gardner, J.D.
The United States
District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the United States
Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps)
to publish a final rule for new manatee sanctuaries and refuges on peninsular
The court enforced a settlement agreement entered into by the parties,
rejecting the argument of the FWS and the Corps that the agreement violated
the Administrative Procedures Act.
Save the Manatee and seventeen other environmental groups filed suit
against the FWS and Corps claiming they violated the Endangered Species
Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Marine
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) by failing to protect the endangered manatee
in Florida. The parties entered into settlement negotiations for nine
months under the direction of a United States Magistrate and finally
reached a settlement agreement in January 2001. This agreement was approved
by the court and filed as an order. In July 2002, the court determined
the defendants were bound by the plain language of the agreement and
that they were in violation of the order and granted plaintiffs
motion to enforce the agreement. In an effort to benefit from the expertise
in manatee protection of the various groups involved, the district court
then ordered the parties to suggest an appropriate remedy.
The defendants failed to suggest a remedy for the violation and instead
argued the Settlement Agreement violated the Administrative Procedures
Act and should be vacated. In addition, the defendants argued that if
the court determined it had to publish a final rule for manatee refuges
and sanctuaries throughout peninsular Florida, they required an extension
until December 2, 2002, one day after the date to which defendants
had originally deferred this rule-making prior to this courts
The court stated that the defendants submission on the issue
of remedy utterly fails to meet this Courts expectation.3 It held that the defendants had to publish a final rule for manatee
refuges and sanctuaries in Florida by November 1, 2002 and granted the
plaintiffs request for attorney fees. The Court gave the plaintiffs
until August 2, 2002 to submit to the court a proposed order with respect
to any other relief related to the emergency designation of manatee
protection zones. Finally, it held that all defendants, including the
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, should show cause as to why they
were not in contempt of the courts previous orders.
The court ordered the Corps and the FWS to comply with the settlement
agreement they previously entered into with the plaintiff and refused
to grant them an extension to publish a final rule for manatee sanctuaries
1. Save the Manatee Club v. Ballard, 215 F. Supp. 2d 88, 89 (D.D.C.
3. Id. at 88