High court to decide whether to hear challenge to Endangered Species Act

The fate of the Endangered Species Act may rest in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, if they decide in coming weeks to hear a case from a Texas man hoping to remove development restrictions on his land. Revoking the ESA protection of the tiny cave bugs inhabiting Fred Purcell’s property would, of course, also affect protection for some 600 other species. Financed by the American Land Foundation, which uses landowner donations to fight development restrictions, Purcell’s lawsuit began in 1999 and argues that the government should never have been given the right to protect rare species like the cave bugs, which have no commercial value and are found only in Texas — meaning they don’t cross state lines and, Purcell’s lawyers argue, should be a state matter. Although the Supreme Court has rejected similar cases in the past and greens say chances are slim that the case will be heard, property-rights advocates are hopeful that this is the case they’ve been waiting for to undermine the ESA.