Posts in Alternative Energy.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Establishes Expedited Eagle Permits

On February 12, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule creating new permitting pathways and revising existing regulations for the take of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). Bald and golden eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), which prohibits take of the species except pursuant to federal regulations. The updated rule is the result of a settlement agreement between the Service and the Energy Wildlife and Action Coalition, which prompted the Service to revisit its ...

BOEM and NOAA Fisheries Announce Final North Atlantic Right Whale and Offshore Wind Strategy

On January 25, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries released a final North Atlantic Right Whale and Offshore Wind Strategy (the “Strategy”). The Strategy expresses the agencies’ joint goal of protecting and promoting the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) while responsibly developing offshore wind energy.

The North Atlantic right whale (NARW) population has declined significantly over the past decade. Population estimates through December 2022 indicate ...

Resource Optimization and Endangered Species Management

On December 21, 2023, I published a post on the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management’s DeltaCurrents blog discussing integration of resource optimization into endangered species policy to improve conservation outcomes. Resource optimization is the allocation of finite resources in the most efficient manner possible. In the context of wildlife management, it is a structured process to select a management action from among available alternatives intended to result in the most efficient allocation of resources to achieve a specified objective. … 

Advocacy Groups Threaten Endangered Species Act Lawsuit Against Virginia Offshore Wind Project

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). … 

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 ...

Massachusetts Court Rejects Marine Mammal Protection Act Challenge to Vineyard Wind Project

On Friday, August 4, 2023, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) in the case of Melone v. Coit et al, 21-cv-11171 (Talwani, J.). The Court found that NMFS complied with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”) in authorizing construction of the Vineyard Wind project despite its impacts on the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), which is protected under the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act. … 

California Amends Fully Protected Species Statutes: Streamlining or More Red Tape?

On July 10, 2023, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 147 (SB147) into law, amending California’s “fully protected species” statutes. These laws were enacted in 1970 and currently protect 37 species native to California, ranging from the North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) to the salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris). The amendments enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor create a temporary, 10-year permitting regime that allows proponents of a limited, defined set of projects to pursue authorization from the ...

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to Release Plans for Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates releasing the Draft Designation Documents for the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.

A draft proposed rule and management plan for the sanctuary are expected to be released early this summer, concurrently with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed designation required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The draft management plan will describe the non-regulatory programmatic strategies and actions the new sanctuary will undertake for an ...

Massachusetts Court Refuses to Halt Construction of Offshore Wind Project

On May 25, 2023, the federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied a motion by plaintiffs seeking to halt construction of the Vineyard Wind project offshore of Massachusetts, in the case of Seafreeze Shoreside, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Interior, 22-cv-11091 (Talwani, J.). The summary judgment motions in the case are still pending, and the plaintiffs have appealed the decision denying their request for a preliminary injunction or stay under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

The plaintiffs in ...

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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