The Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) protection of threatened and endangered wildlife has frequently brought the law into conflict with economic interests, including those of government development agencies whose actions the statute may prohibit. When an agency wishes to override the protections of the Act, it may turn to a rarely used committee of Cabinet-level officials, known as the “God Squad,” for relief. The ESA empowers the God Squad to evaluate a proposed project and exempt the project from ESA requirements if it finds that the benefits of doing so clearly outweigh the benefits of conserving the species. Using prior God Squad rulings as guidance, this Note addresses whether the God Squad is the appropriate avenue to address California’s severe water shortages—-caused by both drought and regulatory restrictions on water usage due to ESA protections of a threatened species in the Bay-Delta region of the state.
Would a "God Squad" Exemption Under the Endangered Species Act Solve the California Water Crisis?,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.