NRDC et al. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service et al. (Rusty Patched Bumblebee)

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Credit: Jill Utrup/USFWS

NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of Minnesota Scientific & Natural Areas sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in District of Columbia federal court, challenging the Service’s decision not to designate “critical habitat” for the endangered rusty patched bumblebee. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) generally requires the Service to protect critical habitat—areas that are essential for a species’ conservation—for all species when they are listed. But the Service delayed designating these areas for the bee, prompting a previous NRDC lawsuit, and it recently decided not to designate these areas at all.

The rusty patched bumblebee is a highly productive pollinator, once common throughout the Midwest and Northeast into Canada. Mirroring broader declines in pollinator populations, it has disappeared from about 87 percent of its historic range.

Declines in pollinators, like the rusty patched bumblebee, threaten the future of our food supply; one in three bites of food we eat is dependent on pollinators. This is especially true for healthy fruits and vegetables, many of which rely on insect pollination. Food scarcity and the resulting increase in food prices are likely to hit underserved communities and communities of color already facing food insecurity the hardest.

On August 11, 2023, the court granted our motion for summary judgment, nullifying the Service’s decision not to protect critical habitat for the rusty patched bumblebee. The court agreed with NRDC and its partners that the Service’s decision was unreasoned and contradicted facts before the agency. Now, it is paramount that the Service quickly designate critical habitat for this important pollinator. 

This victory not only helps to protect habitat for the bee and other wildlife imperiled by habitat loss, but will also help to protect the future of our pollinator dependent food supply.

Urge the EPA to ban neonics—and save our pollinators and the future of our food supply!

Bees are dying at an alarming rate—and neonics are a main culprit. As bees collapse, we could see rising food costs and reduced access to healthy foods. And there’s growing evidence that these toxic pesticides are harmful to human health.

Case Documents

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, March 2021 (PDF) 60-Day Notice Letter (PDF) Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement (PDF) Declaration of Clay Bolt (PDF) Declaration of Jason Taylor (PDF) Declaration of Gina Trujillo (PDF) Declaration of Thomas Casey (PDF) Declaration of David Noah Greenwald (PDF) Declaration of Andrew Wedel (PDF) Declaration of Bryan Newman (PDF) Defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgement (PDF) Plaintiffs’ reply in opposition to defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgement (PDF) Declaration of Lucas Rhoads (PDF) Declaration of Nicole Vandal (PDF) Supplemental declaration of Clay Bolt (PDF) Supplemental declaration of Thomas Casey (PDF) Supplemental declaration of Jason Taylor (PDF) Opinion Granting NRDC’s Motion for Summary Judgment (PDF) Stipulated Agreement to Set a Deadline for Agency Action (PDF)
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