Arizona has put the brakes on 53 planned state highway projects — nearly a billion dollars worth — because of a court order to protect the habitat of the endangered pygmy owl. The move by the state Department of Transportation followed an Oct. 8 court ruling that sided with enviros and prohibited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from issuing a type of permit to develop wetlands that requires little environmental review. The Corps says the judge didn’t give firm direction as to how widely the ruling ought to be applied. Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity, which helped file the suit that led to the ruling, said the DOT was trying to whip up hysteria by making a big show of halting work on its projects.