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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Category Archives: Litigation

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Endangered Species Act Roundup – Three For the Price of One

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, Litigation, Uncategorized

Although there were some notable downperiods when it came to Endangered Species Act news over the past twelve months, the past few weeks have been anything but slow.  Below are a few of the more recent newsworthy items that have rolled off the presses: December 11, 2014 – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues a final rule listing… Continue Reading

Court Holds Congress Lacks Power to Regulate Take of Intrastate Species that Has No Substantial Effect on Commerce

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Litigation

On November 4th, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah invalidated the special rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) regulating take of the threatened Utah prairie dog, a species that only inhabits the state of Utah.  See People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. U.S. Fish and… Continue Reading

Court Affirms FEMA’s Efforts to Implement Actions to Avoid Jeopardizing Listed Species

Posted in Court Decisions, Litigation, National Marine Fisheries Service

On October 23rd the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington upheld the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) compliance with a 2008 reasonable and prudent alternative (RPA) stemming from previous litigation.  The National Wildlife Federation initially challenged the program for its impacts on endangered Pacific Northwest Chinook salmon,… Continue Reading

Two Petitions Filed Seeking Supreme Court Review of Ninth Circuit Decision in Delta Smelt Case

Posted in Litigation

Recently, two separate petitions were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority v. Jewell, a case involving a challenge to the biological opinion and reasonable and prudent alternative issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding continuing operations of the… Continue Reading

Forest Service Agrees to Initiate Consultation regarding Fuels Reduction Project at Upper Echo Lake south of Lake Tahoe and Halt Activity Pending Consultation

Posted in Consultation, Litigation

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California recently signed an order on a stipulation (pdf) in Murphy v. United States Forest Service that bars the Forest Service from proceeding with implementation of the Upper Echo Lake Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project in 2014 (Project), and requires the Forest Service to consult with the U.S. Fish and… Continue Reading

Conservation Groups Continue to File ESA Lawsuits

Posted in Litigation

Despite landmark settlements requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to review the status of hundreds of species currently listed as candidate species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), conservation groups continue to file lawsuits to force listing decisions. For example, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) recently filed suit in an effort to… Continue Reading

Amici Curiae Support En Banc Review of Ninth Circuit Delta Smelt Decision

Posted in Litigation

On May 12, 2014, Appellees Kern County Water Agency, Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, State Water Contractors, and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California filed a petition for rehearing en banc, seeking further review of the recent Ninth Circuit decision relating to the 2008 biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ordered to Complete Recovery Plan for Canada Lynx

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Litigation

Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Montana ordered (pdf) the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to develop a timeline for completion of recovery planning for the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). The court determined that the Service’s purported justifications for not developing and implementing a recovery plan for the species were insufficient… Continue Reading

District Court Finds Columbia River Hatchery Violates Endangered Species Act

Posted in Litigation

In Native Fish Society v. National Marine Fisheries Service, No. 3:12-cv-00431, environmental groups challenged the operation of the Sandy Hatchery along the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. Among other things, plaintiffs argued that operation of the hatchery violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by causing take of listed fish species, including the Lower Columbia River… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Holds Claims Against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Failure to Comply with the Endangered Species Act are Moot

Posted in Conservation, Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Litigation

On August 20, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held (pdf) that appellants’ claims against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an alleged failure to take certain actions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with respect to the straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) were moot.  In 1976, the… Continue Reading

Mexican Gray Wolves Benefit From Two Recent Settlement Agreements

Posted in Litigation

In a recently issued press release, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced that it and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had entered into two settlement agreements that would increase protection for the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in Arizona and New Mexico.  The press release states that under the two agreements the Fish and Wildlife Service will… Continue Reading

District Court Holds Claims Under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act do not Require 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Litigation

On July 22, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington held (pdf) that plaintiffs’ claims regarding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) alleged violation of section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) were not subject to the 60 day notice of intent to sue (NOI) requirement. In 1997, the… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Stays Injunction in Whooping Crane Case

Posted in Litigation

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed (pdf) an injunction issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas requiring the State to prepare a habitat conservation plan for the purpose of obtaining an incidental take permit under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  We… Continue Reading

Lawsuit Filed Challenging Controversial Settlement

Posted in Litigation

On December 17, 2012, the National Association of Home Builders, the Olympia Master Builders, the Home Builder Association of Greater Austin, and the Texas Salamander Coalition, Inc., filed a lawsuit (pdf) against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ken Salazar, in his official capacity, alleging that when the Service entered into stipulated settlements with WildEarth Guardians (pdf) and… Continue Reading

Judge Denies Motion to Amend Order Vacating Designation of Slickspot Peppergrass as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, Litigation

On December 4, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho denied a request to amend its previous order reversing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) 2009 Final Rule listing the slickspot peppergrass (Lepidium papilliferum) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Plaintiffs sought to reverse the court’s August 2012 decision… Continue Reading

Current Adminstration Agrees to Vacate Almost 4 Million Acres of Critical Habitat for the Marbled Murrelet in the Face of Opposition

Posted in Critical Habitat, Litigation

On Tuesday October 24, 2012, several conservation groups wrote a letter to President Obama expressing concerns about an agreement that the Obama Administration entered into with the American Forest Resource Council, Carpenter Industrial Council, and Douglas County, Oregon (Plaintiffs), to remove critical habitat for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), a seabird listed as threatened under… Continue Reading

Next Chapter in Decade-Long Dispute Over Pesticides and the ESA Scheduled for October 24th

Posted in Litigation

Previously, we reported on the latest chapter in the decade-long dispute between environmental groups, federal agencies, and pesticide manufacturers over the impact of pesticides on the Pacific Northwest’s listed salmon populations.  The next chapter is scheduled for October 24, 2012, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear oral argument in DowAgrosciences… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Reverses Decision and Holds Forest Service “Approval” of Suction Dredge Mining Notice of Intent Triggers Duty to Consult

Posted in Consultation, Court Decisions, Litigation

On June 1, 2012, a sharply divided Ninth Circuit sitting en banc filed an opinion in Karuk Tribe of California v. U.S. Forest Service, No. 05-16801 (June 1, 2012) (pdf) holding that U.S. Forest Service "approvals" of notices of intent (NOIs) to undertake suction dredge mining are discretionary agency actions that may affect listed coho salmon designated critical habitat in the Klamath… Continue Reading

Judge Reduces But Allows Removal of California Sea Lions at Bonneville Dam

Posted in Conservation, Litigation

A  judge in the District of Washington D.C. recently denied a request by the Humane Society of the United States to halt the killing of sea lions that prey on endangered spring run salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River.  On March 15, 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reauthorized the removal of California sea lions… Continue Reading

District Court Poised to Decide Whether to Enjoin Sale of Flood Insurance in Puget Sound

Posted in Litigation

On Tuesday, March 27, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington will hear argument in a suit filed by National Wildlife Federation against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for failure to fully implement the reasonable and prudent alternative (RPA) that accompanied the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) biological opinion regarding… Continue Reading