On October 16, 2018, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Food Safety submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to list the Crotch bumble bee (Bombus crotchii), Franklin's bumble bee (Bombus franklini), Suckely cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus suckleyi), and western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis occidentalis) as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The Commission is required under the California Fish and Game Code to refer the petition to the California Department of Fish ...
On October 1, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the first case of its new term, Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dkt. No. 17-71. The case concerns the designation of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa) in an area that is not currently capable of sustaining a frog population. The central issue in the appeal is whether an area that currently does not possess some of the characteristics deemed essential for the frog’s survival may nevertheless be designated as unoccupied critical habitat for ...
The last several days have seen a flurry of activity in the federal courts in matters involving the Endangered Species Act (ESA):
- In Crown Indian Tribe v. United States, CV 17-89-M-DLC, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated (pdf) a June 30, 2017 final rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) delisting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis). The court held that the Service violated the ESA when it delisted the Greater Yellowstone grizzly distinct population segment (DPS) without any analysis of ...
As we reported here, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (together, the Services) recently proposed revisions to the regulations that implement portions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The submission deadline for comments was September 24, 2018. If enacted, the Services assert that the proposed revisions would, among other things, streamline ESA consultations with other federal agencies and clarify the jeopardy standard.
The proposed revisions sparked a flurry of last minute comment submissions from environmental groups, who ...
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares for its upcoming October 2018 term, one petition concerning an endangered sea otter relocation program is attracting a lot of attention as a potential vehicle for the Court to consider the broader issue of Chevron deference, the legal doctrine that requires courts to defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute. The petition has also created odd bedfellows, as the Department of Justice under the Trump Administration finds itself arguing alongside several national environmental non-profit organizations that the ...
On September 4, 2018, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit under the federal Freedom of Information Act against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The lawsuit alleges that the Service has used irresponsible scientific methods while conducting its review of the endangered status for the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The lawsuit was triggered, in part, by a letter to the Service authored by one of the scientists who initially participated in the Service’s risk assessment for the beetle ...
On August 23, 2018, the California Fish and Game Commission ("Commission") listed the Humboldt marten (Marten caurina humboldtensis) as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The Commission also ratified its decision to list the Lassics lupine flower (Lupinus constancei) as an endangered plant under CESA.
Members of the weasel family, Humboldt martens were previously designated as a California Species of Special Concern and are currently under review for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. Over the last quarter century ...
On August 10, 2018, the representative from Indiana's 4th Congressional District introduced a bill entitled: "To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to remove freshwater mussels from the list of endangered and threatened species." While the text of the bill isn't yet available, based on the title of the bill one can reasonably surmise that the author of the bill believes that freshwater mussels are not deserving of Endangered Species Act protection. Further, this interpretation is supported by recent articles detailing the representative's long-running ...
This week, the media has reported two changes in key roles at the Department of the Interior (DOI) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Greg Sheehan has reportedly left his role as Principal Deputy Director of USFWS. Sheehan had held the role since appointed by DOI Secretary Zinke in June 2017. As the Trump administration has not yet filled the role of Director of the USFWS, Sheehan had been the top official within USFWS. Sheehan is expected to leave his role next week.
The media also reported this week that Andrea Travnicek has been named as Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish ...
In recent weeks, the Trump Administration and Congress have proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its implementing regulations. Lawmakers from the Congressional Western Caucus introduced nine bills that would, according to the 15 legislators that introduced the bills, amend and modernize the ESA. The lawmakers assert that the bills would also incentivize voluntary conservation efforts, let states enter into cooperative agreements for recovery, and prioritize data from local communities in making scientific decisions about conservation.
The bills ...
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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