Environmental Law Program

2012 Elizabeth Sharpe Fellow Susan Culliney

This summer I worked in the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Branch of ESA Litigation, in Arlington, Virginia.My duties included tracking lawsuits filed against the FWS, coordinating and communicating with agency attorneys and staff, and working collaboratively on various larger projects. These larger projects included responding to a FOIA request that was subject to litigation and a congressional request from the House Natural Resources Committee. I also helped draft and edit declarations used to support agency positions in litigation.

The main focus of the summer was the relatively recent culmination of a Multi-District Litigation (MDL), which had consolidated numerous challenges to late FWS listing determinations. The resulting settlement agreements require the FWS to work towards a deadline in making listing determinations for many hundreds of petitioned species. Being involved with the numerous peripheral issues stemming from the MDL settlements gave me insight into the listing program, the role of citizen lawsuits in the endangered species process, and an introduction to administrative law.

I also gained perspective on what it is like for a governmental agency to be responsible for rulemaking under a statute with opposing parties challenging the decisions. The experience has made me consider more carefully when to use collaboration and when to use litigation in seeking the ultimate goal of endangered species management.

–Thank you Susan for your thoughtful and informative reflection on your summer fellowship. We look forward to seeing more from you in the future! All the best, ELP