Posts in Critical Habitat.

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 ...

California Protected Species Law Changes: Real Fix or Red Tape?

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 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 ...

Critical Habitat Proposed for Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly

On August 10, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas Anicia cloudcrofti) under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed critical habitat designation encompasses 1,636.9 acres of land in the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County, New Mexico, and follows the Service’s January 2023 final rule listing the species as endangered.

As explained in the proposed rule, the Service considered physical and biological features “essential to the ...

Service Proposes to List Two Mussel Species and Designate Critical Habitat in Texas

On July 25, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to list two mussel species, the Salina mucket (Potamilus metnecktayi) and Mexican fawnsfoot (Truncilla cognata), as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed to designate critical habitat for these species under the ESA. The proposed critical habitat for the Salina mucket would amount to approximately 200 river miles in the Texan counties of Brewester, Terrell, and Val Verde, and the proposed critical habitat for the Mexican fawnsfoot would amount to ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl as Threatened with a 4(d) Rule

On July 20, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule listing the cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) (“Owl”) as a threatened subspecies with a 4(d) rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 4(d) rule prohibits the same activities prohibited for endangered species, but allows exemptions for certain education and outreach activities permitted under a Migratory Bird Treaty Act permit, surveying and monitoring in Arizona under a state scientific activity permit, and habitat restoration and enhancement ...

Services Propose New Regulatory Revisions Under the Endangered Species Act

On June 22, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the Services), issued three sets of proposed revisions to their Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations addressing: (1) interagency consultations under ESA section 7; (2) the procedures and criteria for listing, reclassifying, delisting, and designating critical habitat for species under ESA section 4; and (3) reinstatement of USFWS’s blanket ESA section 4(d) rule which, prior to its repeal in 2019, extended the take prohibitions of ESA section 9 to all ...

Massachusetts Court Rejects Endangered Species Act Challenge to Offshore Wind Project

On May 17, 2023, the federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Vineyard Wind and denied summary judgment to the plaintiffs in the case of Nantucket Residents Against Turbines v. U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 21-cv-11390 (Talwani, J.). This is the first federal court decision upholding, on the merits, the federal government’s approval of a commercial-scale offshore wind project. There are three other cases pending that also seek to block the construction ...

Ninth Circuit Rules Service Improperly Designated Occupied, Unoccupied Critical Habitat for Jaguar

On May 17, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) issued its decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Case No. 20-15654), a case in which a mining company challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) designation of certain areas in southern Arizona as critical habitat for the jaguar (Panthera onca) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling that the Service improperly designated the challenged area as occupied critical habitat. With respect to the ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Publishes Updated National Listing Workplan

This month, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published the latest update to its National Listing Workplan (Workplan). This update to the Workplan is the Service’s latest since March 2022 and projects the anticipated timeline for the agency’s listing-related decisions over the next five years (2023-2027). In general, the Workplan estimates the Service’s publication dates for various findings and publications, including but not limited to 12-month findings, species status reviews, proposed listing determinations and critical habitat ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revised Critical Habitat Designation for Rufa Red Knot

On April 13, 2023, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) published a proposed rule to revise the critical habitat designation for the rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa). The red knot is a shorebird that migrates annually between the Canadian Arctic and wintering regions to the south, including the Southeast United States, the Northeast Gulf of Mexico, northern Brazil, and Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. During both northbound (spring) and southbound (fall) migrations, red knots use key staging and stopover areas to rest and feed.  

The ...

Service Lists Bracted Twistflower as Threatened Species and Designates Critical Habitat

On April 11, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule listing the bracted twistflower (Streptanthus bracteatus), a wildflower native to Texas, as threatened with a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also finalized a critical habitat designation for the species spanning approximately 1,596 acres in the Texas counties of Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, and Travis. The critical habitat designation consists of almost entirely public land, with the exception of approximately 63 acres of privately owned land (however ...

Federal Court Allows Center for Biological Diversity to Continue Large ESA Lawsuit Against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling allowing the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to continue pursuing its large Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Department of the Interior.

The underlying lawsuit, filed in 2019, alleges that the Service violated the ESA by failing to timely publish 12-month findings on nearly 200 listing petitions, final listing determinations for six species, and designations of critical habitat for four species.  In response, the Service filed a ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Again Finds Listing of Joshua Trees Not Warranted

On March 9, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued its 12-month finding that listing Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia and Y. jaegeriana) as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted. The 12-month finding was made to comply with a September 20, 2021 court-ordered remand of the Service’s previous “not warranted” finding in August 2019.

In September 2015, WildEarth Guardians submitted a petition to list the Joshua trees as threatened and, if applicable, designate critical habitat for the species. The Service issued ...

On January 24, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to designate approximately 104 river miles as critical habitat for the sickle darter (Percina williamsi) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The critical habitat designation would be divided into six areas—Little River, Emory River and Rock Creek, Copper Creek, North Fork Holston River, Middle Fork Holston River, and Sequatchie River—which together span Bledsoe, Blount, Morgan, and Roane Counties in Tennessee, and Scott, Smyth, and Washington Counties in Virginia. Nearly 80 percent of the ...

Ninth Circuit Remands 2019 Registration of Sulfoxaflor Back to EPA

On December 21, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2019 registration of the pesticide “sulfoxaflor” violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by unconditionally expanding allowed uses of the pesticide to blooming crops and removing certain restrictions. The court held that the agency violated the ESA by not making an “effects” determination to trigger “consultation” with a wildlife agency and violated FIFRA by failing ...

Court Sends Endangered Species Act Regulations Back to the Agencies

On November 16, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (District Court) remanded three sets of Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations promulgated in 2019 under the Trump administration back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, Services) for reconsideration. The three regulations addressed: how species are listed and delisted and critical habitat designated under ESA section 4; interagency consultation under ESA section 7; and a final rule repealing USFWS’s blanket ESA ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revised Critical Habitat for Fisher DPS

On November 7, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to designate approximately 595,495 acres of critical habitat for the Southern Sierra Nevada distinct population segment (DPS) of fisher (Pekania pennanti) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The critical habitat designation would span six units in California’s Tuolumne, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, and Tulare Counties. The majority of the land comprising these units is owned and/or managed by federal, state, or tribal governments.

The fisher is a small, carnivorous mammal native to North American ...

Service Proposes Listing Two California Salamander Species with Critical Habitat Designations

On October 18, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced 12-month findings on a petition to list three California-based salamander species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): the Kern Plateau salamander (Batrachoseps robustus), the Kern Canyon slender salamander (Batrachoseps simatus), and the relictual slender salamander (Batrachoseps relictus). All three salamander species occur in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The Service determined that listing the Kern Canyon slender salamander and the relictual slender salamander is ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing Two Snakes and Designating Critical Habitat

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to list two snake species, the Key ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus acricus) and the rim rock crowned snake (Tantilla oolitica), as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed to designate critical habitat for these nonvenomous snakes, including approximately 2,604 acres in Monroe County and approximately 5,972 acres in Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, Florida for the Key ring-necked snake and rim rock crowned snake, respectively. The proposal comes as a result of a ...

9th Circuit Puts ESA Rules Vacatur on Hold

On September 21, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) stayed a July 5, 2022 order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (District Court) vacating several Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations promulgated by the Trump Administration in 2019 (2019 Rules). In a brief order, the Ninth Circuit indicated the District Court “clearly” erred in vacating the 2019 Rules without first ruling on their underlying legal validity. As a result of the decision of the Ninth Circuit, the District Court’s vacatur of the 2019 Rules is ...

On August 23, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a notice in response to petitions seeking to list, delist, or revise the critical habitat of four species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service found the petitions to list the Fish Lake Valley tui chub (Siphateles bicolor ssp. 4) and to delist the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) “present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted,” and are therefore initiating status reviews to determine whether to list and delist the species, respectively. …

Service Proposes Listing and Critical Habitat Designation for Magnificent Snail

For the magnificent ramshorn (Planorbella magnifica), a fresh-water snail species native to southeastern North Carolina, efforts to secure protection under the federal Endangered Species Act have progressed at a snail’s pace. Today, twelve years after environmentalists originally petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to list the species, the Service proposed to list the magnificent ramshorn as endangered, and to designate two ponds spanning 739 acres as critical habitat for the species. The proposed rule was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the Center of ...

Court Vacates Trump-Era ESA Regulations

On July 5, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order vacating three Trump-era regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).

In 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the “Services”) issued three final rules (“2019 ESA Rules”) modifying how the Services implement the ESA, including: (1) a rule under section 4 of the ESA concerning how the Services list, delist, and reclassify endangered or threatened species and the criteria for ...

Habitat Definition No Longer Applies in Critical Habitat Designations

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, Services) published a final rule rescinding the Trump administration’s 2020 final rule defining “habitat” for the purpose of informing designation of areas as “critical habitat” (2020 Rule) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In rescinding the definition of “habitat,” the Services explained they were removing an “excessive constraint” on the agencies’ ability to designate critical habitat under the ESA. Specifically, the Services ...

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to list the sand dune phacelia (Phacelia argentea) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with a proposed section 4(d) rule that would prohibit several activities with respect to the species.  The proposed rule also includes a designation of approximately 252 acres of critical habitat in Del Norte County in California, and Coos and Curry Counties in Oregon. 

The sand dune phacelia is an evergreen, herbaceous, flowering perennial in the forget-me-not family of plants.  It blooms from ...

On February 9, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado found that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it failed to reinitiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) prior to approving oil and gas leases. BLM had issued the leases for parcels of land in Southwest Colorado located within Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) habitat and other proposed and existing areas of environmental concern.

The ESA requires federal agencies to review federal actions “at the earliest possible time ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing Small Butterfly as Endangered

On January 25, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to list the Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas anicia cloudcrofti) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly is a small butterfly with dark brown, red, orange, and cream coloring, punctuated by black spots and dark lines, on its wings. The butterfly is a subspecies of the Anicia checkerspot, or variable checkerspot, in the Nymphalidae family, and is native to the Sacramento Mountains in south-central New ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has issued a final rule listing the Panama City crayfish (Procambarus econfinae) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with a section 4(d) rule limiting take of the species.  The final rule also includes a designation of eight units of critical habitat, totaling approximately 4,138 acres, in Bay County, Florida.

The Panama City crayfish is a small, semi-terrestrial crayfish that grows to about two inches in length (minus claws), and is found in southcentral Bay County, Florida.  The species’ color pattern ...

Department of the Interior Releases Hefty Agenda

On December 10, 2021, the Biden Administration released the Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda), which is a semi-annual compilation of information concerning regulations and policy under development by federal agencies. Department of the Interior (DOI) entries on the Unified Agenda reveal a lengthy set of planned regulatory actions, some of which may have an impact on development and deployment of energy, construction and operation of transportation and other infrastructure, and various other economic activities. … 

Assessment of Service’s Move to Rescind Definition of Habitat

This week, I published a post on the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management’s DeltaCurrents blog discussing the Biden administration’s proposal to rescind the definition of habitat.  The definition was promulgated by the Trump administration in response to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 in Weyerhauser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a case involving a challenge to the rule designating critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog in the American southeast. … 

Threatened Listing and 4(d) Rule for Texas Plant Species

On November 10, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a proposed rule to list the bracted twistflower (Streptanthus bracteatus), a plant species found only in Texas, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The USFWS is proposing to list the bracted twistflower with a species-specific rule under section 4(d) of the ESA (4(d) rule), as well as to designate approximately 1,607 acres in central Texas as critical habitat for the species.

The bracted twistflower is a flowering annual plant and a member of the mustard family that can grow over ...

Service Revises Critical Habitat Designation for Northern Spotted Owl

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule revising the critical habitat designation for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The final rule rescinds a previous rule issued by the Trump Administration on January 15, 2021, which was set to take effect this coming December, and would have excluded approximately 3.4 million acres from the species’ critical habitat designation.  Instead, the Service’s new final rule excludes from the designation only 204,294 acres located across multiple ...

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn
Service Proposes Critical Habitat Designation for Coastal DPS of Pacific Marten

On October 25, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the coastal distinct population segment (DPS) of Pacific marten (Martes caurina), also known as coastal marten, under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  In the proposed rule, the Service identifies a total of approximately 1,413,305 acres of land in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon to designate as critical habitat for the coastal marten. 

Listed as a threatened species in October 2020, the coastal marten is a medium-sized carnivore in the ...

On October 14, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to list the bog buck moth (Hemileuca maia menyanthevora) (= H.iroquois) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Federal Register notice also states that the Service will make a final determination on the proposed listing within one year, and that it is seeking comments on the proposed designation.

The bog buck moth occurs in groundwater-fed wetlands in Oswego County, New York, and Ontario, Canada, with large amounts of bog buckbean (a plant that is a key food source, or “host plant” for bog buck moth larvae, much as milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterfly larvae). …

USFWS Issues 12-month Findings on Chipmunk, Moss, Butterflies, and Springsnails

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued three separate notices in the Federal Register concerning the agency’s 12-month findings on a number of petitions to list various wildlife and plants under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

First, the USFWS announced a positive 12-month finding on a petition to list the Peñasco least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus atristriatus), a small mammal from New Mexico.  The USFWS proposes to list the Peñasco least chipmunk as an endangered species under the ESA and to designate approximately 6,574 acres of land as critical ...

USFWS Lists Alabama Crayfish Species as Endangered, Designates 78 Miles of River as Critical Habitat

On September 8, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("USFWS") published a final rule in the Federal Register listing the slenderclaw crayfish as endangered under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") and identifying approximately 78 miles of river in DeKalb and Marshall Counties, Alabama as critical habitat for the species.

The slenderclaw crayfish is a small freshwater crustacean that is endemic to streams on Sand Mountain within the Tennessee River Basin in Alabama. Most of the slenderclaw crayfish’s natural habitat was flooded when the Tennessee River was dammed in 1939 to ...

On August 18, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) published in the Federal Register a final rule designating more than 1,315 acres across 14 units as critical habitat (“Final Rule”) for two neotenic salamander species known only from Williamson and Bell Counties, Texas: the Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia) and Salado salamander (Eurycea chisholmensis).  The species are “neotenic” because they do not transform into a terrestrial form and instead spend their entire life cycle in water.  The Final Rule was published in accordance with a ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Shows Its Texas Mussel

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) published in the Federal Register a proposal to list six Central Texas mussel species under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), to issue an ESA section 4(d) rule for one of the species, and to designate critical habitat (“Proposed Rule”).  Specifically, the Service has proposed to list the Guadalupe fatmucket (Lampsilis bergmanni), Texas fatmucket (Lampsilis bracteata), Guadalupe orb (Cyclonaias necki), Texas pimpleback (Cyclonaias (=Quadrula) petrina), and false spike (Fusconaia (=Quincuncina) mitchelli) as endangered ... 

FWS to Assess Revisions to Mount Graham Red Squirrel’s Critical Habitat Designation

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a 12-month finding on a petition to revise the critical habitat designation for the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Mount Graham red squirrel is a subspecies of red squirrel occurring only in certain high-elevation areas of the Coronado National Forest in Arizona. 

In December of 2017, a group of eNGOs including the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to FWS, requesting that the agency expand the subspecies’ ...

On July 13, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the pearl darter (Percina aurora) under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Listed as a threatened species under the ESA in September 2017, the pearl darter is a small, snub-nosed fish whose historical range includes Mississippi and Louisiana.  The proposed critical habitat designation for the pearl darter includes a total of approximately 517 river miles along the Pascagoula River and Pearl River basins, which run across multiple counties in ...

ESA Implementation Thrown Into Flux

On June 4, 2021, the Biden administration announced its intent to rescind or revise several implementing regulations for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) finalized under the prior administration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has not yet published these proposed rules in the Federal Register, nor has the Service provided the exact dates when it intends to publish the proposed rules.

In its announcement, the Service indicates its intent to rescind regulations governing how the Service conducts critical habitat exclusion analyses under ESA section 4(b)(2) and how ...

The Role of Conceptual Ecological Models in Implementing the Federal Endangered Species Act

This week, I published a post on the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management’s DeltaCurrents blog discussing the role of conceptual ecological models in implementing the federal Endangered Species Act. Conceptual ecological models are a specialized subset of conceptual models generally intended to describe the environmental factors that affect an ecological community, a species, or a population. Conceptual ecological models are useful in a variety of contexts ranging from development of research proposals and monitoring schemes, to regulatory ...

Department of the Interior Takes Steps Toward Reversal of Position on Migratory Birds Protections

Recently, the Department of the Interior released a pre-publication version of a Federal Register notice delaying the effective date of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) take definitional rule to March 8, 2021, and opening a 20-day public comment period, which will close March 1, 2021.  The MBTA was enacted in 1918 to implement an international convention for the protection of migratory birds in response to declines in populations of a number of species of birds resulting from widespread hunting and poaching.  The take definitional rule states in full:

“The prohibitions of the ...
Biden Administration to Review Species Rules and Related Frameworks

On January 20, 2021, President Biden announced his administration will review regulatory actions taken between January 20, 2017 and January 20, 2021 in accordance with an Executive Order titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” (EO). Among the agency actions to be reviewed under the EO are a number of regulations and policies finalized by the Trump Administration involving Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and other related statutes.

An initial pre-publication announcement ...

NMFS Proposes Rule to Reduce North Atlantic Right Whale Entanglements in Fishing Gear

On December 31, 2020, the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) proposed to amend regulations implementing the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (“ALWTRP” or “Plan”) with the stated goal of reducing the incidental mortality and serious injury to the endangered North Atlantic right whale, as well as fin whales and humpback whales, in the Northeast commercial lobster and crab trap/pot fisheries. The agency stated that the amendment is needed in order to comply with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”) and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA” ...

Monarch Placed on Candidate List

On December 17, 2020 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) published its 12-month finding that listing of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) is warranted but precluded by higher priority actions. With this finding, the monarch becomes a candidate species with a listing priority designation of “8.”  An “8” indicates the magnitude of threats to the monarch is moderate to low and those threats are imminent. In the announcement, the USFWS notes that 161 other species are currently prioritized above the monarch for listing consideration. Each year ...

Federal Wildlife Agencies Release Final Rule Defining “Habitat”

On December 15, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the agencies) released a pre-publication version of a final rule providing a definition of “habitat” for the purpose of informing designation of areas as “critical habitat” under the Endangered Species Act.  The agencies released a proposed rule defining habitat in August 2020 in response to a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019 overturning a lower court decision that upheld a controversial determination of critical habitat by the U.S. Fish and ...

Linear infrastructure projects, including oil and gas pipelines, electric transmission lines and transportation, have faced a number of regulatory challenges over the past year, starting with last summer’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) amendments. Some of these challenges stem from changes in regulatory schemes or adverse court holdings, while others stem from uncertainty of pending ESA listing decisions and other actions. 

In our recent webinar concerning Adapting Linear Infrastructure Projects to Changing Regulatory Frameworks, we discussed the path for energy providers to move forward and reduce the risk that projects may be delayed or scrapped down the road. One of the topics we covered was the 2019 regulatory amendments to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the following video clip from the webinar, we review some of the revised definitions and updated language in the new version of the regulations.

If you would like to view the full webinar ...

Federal Wildlife Agencies Propose Rule to Define Habitat

The Departments of Commerce and the Interior (Departments) have completed a proposed rule to define the term “habitat” as that term is used in the context of designating “critical habitat” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed rule will soon be published in the Federal Register. Upon publication, the public will be given 30 days to submit comments. If finalized, the definition will be included in the joint regulations developed by the two Departments to implement section 4(a)(3)(A)(i) of the ESA. The ESA, itself, defines the term “critical habitat” but ...

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.

Stay Connected

RSS RSS Feed

Categories

Archives

View All Nossaman Blogs
Jump to Page

We use cookies on this website to improve functionality, enhance performance, analyze website traffic and to enable social media features. To learn more, please see our Privacy Policy and our Terms & Conditions for additional detail.