Amicus Brief in V Lions Farming, LLC, et al. v. County of Kern, et al. dealing with protection of the Temblor Legless Lizard

June 30, 2023

Staff and faculty at the UCLA Emmett Institute filed an amicus brief at the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District in the case V Lions Farming, LLC, et al. v. County of Kern, et al.  

The case centers on a proposed Kern County ordinance to would streamline oil and gas development in that county that would devastate the environment by increasing air pollution, diminishing water supplies, destroying valuable land, and—critically for this amicus brief—threatening local wildlife.  

The subject of this brief is the Temblor Legless Lizard, a sand-swimming reptile unique to Kern and Fresno Counties whose survival as a species is jeopardized by the already extensive oil and gas drilling in its narrow range. Amicus curiae is Bradley Shaffer, a UCLA ecology professor and expert in conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles.  

The brief, in support of Appellants, explains that Kern County has failed to disclose or meaningfully assess important information about the immense potential impact that this ordinance would have on the Temblor Legless Lizard, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act. The brief was filed as part of the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at the UCLA School of Law by Emmett/Frankel Fellows Andria So and Gabriel Greif as well as UCLA Emmett Institute Executive Director Cara Horowitz. 

The Temblor is a critically imperiled species with an extremely restricted habitat range, vulnerable to harms caused by oil and gas development. Much of what is known about the species and its limited habitat range comes from a 2019 study commissioned and funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. However, Kern County has failed to update its own 2015 environmental impact report with current information about the extremely small range occupied by the Temblor. Instead, the county continues to rely on outdated science to try to justify its oil and gas ordinance.  

The Appellants are Committee for a Better Arvin, Committee for a Better Shafter, Comité Progreso de Lamont, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Center for Biological Diversity.   

View the brief

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