On November 30, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing a distinct population segment (DPS) of the North American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscas) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The wolverine is a medium-sized carnivore found in Alaska, Canada and the western-northwestern United States. The current listing is limited to the DPS of wolverine occurring in the contiguous United States. In the Federal Register notice …
On November 13, two advocacy organizations submitted a notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The notice letter alleges that the September 18, 2023 Biological Opinion (BiOp) issued by NMFS for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because it fails to adequately analyze and mitigate the project's impacts on the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis).
The notice letter alleges several deficiencies in the BiOp, including:
On October 31, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed listing the oblong rocksnail (Leptoxis compacta) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The freshwater snail exists only in the Cahaba River in central Alabama and subsists on algae growing on the riverbed. The oblong rocksnail was declared extinct in 2000 after several decades without a confirmed specimen observation and multiple river surveys. In 2011, a population was discovered which inhabits a 5.6 river mile stretch of the Cahaba River about 10 miles south of Birmingham ...
On Thursday, October 12, 2023, Judge Indira Talwani of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of the United States Department of the Interior and Vineyard Wind, and denied summary judgment to the plaintiffs in two cases challenging federal authorizations for the Vineyard Wind project: Seafreeze Shoreside, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Interior (Seafreeze) and Responsible Offshore Development Alliance v. U.S. Department of Interior (RODA). In both cases, the plaintiffs sought to overturn the federal approvals for the ...
On September 30, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in a case challenging the agency’s final rule downlisting the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) to “threatened species” status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
In its opinion, the court held that the Service adhered to a reasonable interpretation of the ESA and followed proper procedures when deciding to downlist the American burying beetle to threatened status despite noting climate change ...
On October 3, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published two proposed rules to list three species—the northwestern pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), the southwestern pond turtle (Actinemys pallida), and the short-tailed snake (Lampropeltis extenuata)—as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed listings also include proposed 4(d) rules for each species. However, according to the Federal Register notices, the Service concluded that designating critical habitat for each of the three species is not currently determinable, and ...
I recently authored an article for Law360 on the impact of SB 147, which was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 10, 2023, and amends California's "fully protected species" statutes. These laws were enacted in 1970, and currently protect 37 species native to California, ranging from the massive North Pacific right whale to the diminutive salt marsh harvest mouse.
The amendments create a temporary, 10-year permitting regime that allows proponents of a limited, defined set of projects to pursue authorization from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife ...
On Tuesday, September 26, President Biden vetoed two Republican-sponsored joint resolutions, S.J. Res. 9 and S.J. Res. 24, seeking to undo Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the lesser prairie-chicken (LEPC) (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) and northern long-eared bat (NLEB) (Myotis septentrionalis) that became effective in January 2023.
S.J. Res. 9 would have undone the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) final rule listing the Northern distinct population segment (DPS) of the LEPC as threatened with a section 4(d) rule and the Southern DPS as endangered ...
On August 29, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing two distinct population segments (DPS)—the North Feather and Central Coast DPSs—of the foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) (Frog) as threatened (Threatened DPSs) and two additional DPSs of the Frog—the South Sierra and South Coast DPSs—as endangered (Endangered DPSs) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the preamble to the final rule, the Service indicated that designating critical habitat for all four DPSs of the Frog is not determinable at this time due to a lack ...
On August 11, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to delist the Apache trout (Oncorhynchus apache) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to the species’ recovery. The Apache trout, the state fish of Arizona, is a species of freshwater fish that is found primarily in the mountain region of southeast Arizona. This species was initially listed as an endangered species under the ESA in 1967. Then, in 1975, the Service downlisted the species to threatened status. The ESA defines a threatened species as one that is “likely to become ...
Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.
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