CHERYL GLASER: Environmental groups are celebrating a big victory. Yesterday, a federal judge stopped a major water irrigation project in its tracks. He said it may jeopardize a rare and fabled bird, the ivory-billed woodpecker. Marketplace's Scott Tong fills us in.

SCOTT TONG: Last spring, the Army Corps of Engineers was about to start a $320 million project. The plan was to take water out the White River in Arkansas and channel it to rice farmers.

But then . . .

[ sond of woodpecker ]

Federal scientists announced the long-lost woodpecker was no longer lost.

The Army Corps argued the bird was safe from the project, but the National Wildlife Federation argued the corps hadn't done its homework to make that case.

The federation's Randy Sargent says that violates the law.

RANDY SARGENT: It requires that impacts on species be assessed before projects get built. And this was an end run around the whole endangered species act.

The judge agreed and halted the project until the corps does further studies.

To key Republicans in Congress, it's the latest illustration that the Act is a lawsuit magnet. They're pushing a bill that raises the legal burden for environmentalists to use the Act.

In Washington, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

Follow Scott Tong at @tongscott