BP and the ESA
The Endangered Species Act is a very tough statute, backed by criminal fines and penalties, assessed on an every bird/fish/animal basis. Thus if 30 individual endangered sea turtles are killed (or injured) by the spill, that’s thirty potential counts of ESA violations.
BP’s exposure under the ESA is immense and as yet little reported on.
The brown pelican was delisted in November, but look for someone inside the Department of the Interior to examine an emergency relisting of the bird.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is mobilized to assist in the care of any species harmed by the oil, but the liability for those injuries will not escape their enforcement division. NOAA’s Office of Enforcement will also certainly be compiling its case as the impacts to species mount.