NRDC v. R. Zinke et al. (International Wildlife Conservation Council)
In November 2017, the Trump administration created the deceitfully named International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC) to advise U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on “the benefits international hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation.” In other words, the council’s purpose was to make it easier for U.S. trophy hunters to kill and import some of the most-loved and imperiled species on earth, including elephants, lions, and giraffes. Despite backlash from groups including NRDC, the Interior Department stacked the IWCC with National Rifle Association representatives and celebrity trophy hunters.
On August 1, 2018, NRDC and our partners sued the Interior Department under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) for creating the IWCC. FACA sets out requirements for advisory councils, including that they be “objective and accessible to the public,” “in the public interest,” “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented,” and free of influence from special interests. The IWCC, however, flouted each and every one of these conditions—working to keep its operations secret, assuming a biased and one-sided purpose, and granting committee membership to only those who support trophy hunting and stand to gain from the council.
In two consecutive victories for wildlife conservation, the federal district court rejected an attempt by the Trump administration to dismiss the case and then in February 2020, the Interior Department told the court that no future meetings of the council will take place—bringing an end to this ridiculously misguided council.
After the Trump administration disbanded the council, the court dismissed the case, recognizing that the council was well and truly dead.