Posts in Migratory Bird.
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 ...

Trump Administration Finalizes Migratory Bird Rule

On January 7, 2021, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a final rule limiting the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)’s prohibition on the take of migratory birds. The new rule excludes incidental take, meaning bird mortality that results from an action but is not the purpose of that action. 

This rule is the culmination of Trump Administration efforts that began shortly after it took office to reverse prior agency policy and limit the scope of the MBTA. The rule does not take effect until February 6, 2021 and so may be suspended by the incoming Biden ...

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 ...

Court Reignites Migratory Bird Treaty Act Question

On August 11, 2020, a federal district court in New York ruled that the unintentional or incidental “take” of migratory birds is a crime under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”), vacating a Department of the Interior Solicitor’s Opinion (M-37050, referred to as an M-Opinion), which had determined that the MBTA does not apply to incidental take.

The now-vacated M-Opinion, issued by the Trump Administration in December 2017, had withdrawn and replaced an earlier M-Opinion issued in the last days of the Obama Administration (Opinion M-37041), which had interpreted the ...

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WEBINAR: Adapting Your Linear Infrastructure Projects to Changing Regulatory Frameworks

Please join us for a complimentary webinar on July 30, 2020 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PT, where we will discuss the path for energy providers to move forward and reduce the risk that projects may be delayed or scrapped down the road. We will examine...

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed (pdf) that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) permit allowing take of the barred owl (Strix varia) to protect the threatened Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) did not violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  The U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon held that nothing in the MBTA limits take of a species for scientific purposes to only those situations where the research is aimed at conservation of the species taken.

The case arose from the Service’s 2008 Recovery ...

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On December 27, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit partially reversed and remanded a decision by the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, delaying if not derailing an expansion in shallow-set longline swordfish fisheries.  Environmental groups brought claims against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) alleging violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and the National Environmental ...

As 2018 approaches, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) made a few announcements that will likely impact the list of threatened and endangered species.  In these last 11 days of 2017, the Service announced 90-day findings on petitions to list or reclassify five species, and 12-month findings on petitions to list or de-list two species under the ESA.

  • On December 20, 2017, the Service announced 90-day findings on petitions for five separate species. The Service found that the petitioned actions for each of the five species may be warranted, based on the information presented in ...

On December 22, 2017 the Department of the Interior (DOI) Solicitor's Office issued its revised interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s (MBTA) prohibition on the take of migratory bird species.  Official opinions from the DOI Solicitor’s Office are known as M Opinions and carry substantial weight in how DOI applies and enforces the various wildlife laws under its purview.  In January 2017, the prior DOI Solicitor issued Opinion M-37041, Incidental Take Prohibited Under Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which concluded that the MBTA’s broad prohibition on taking and ...

On November 8, 2017, the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources approved an amendment to oil and gas-related legislation, the SECURE Act (H.R. 4239), that is intended to obviate liability for the incidental or accidental take of migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. § 703 et seq. (Act).  The amendment, submitted by Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), provides: This Act shall not be construed to prohibit any activity proscribed by section 2 of this Act that is accidental or incidental to the presence or operation of an otherwise lawful ...

Nossaman LLP’s own Steven P. Quarles and Brooke M. Wahlberg are co-chairing CLE International’s upcoming 2nd Annual MBTA and BGEPA:  Hot Topics in Avian Protection conference.  This timely, in-person CLE will explore the complexities of federal wildlife laws and rules to protect migratory birds and eagles under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA).  Speakers will include state and federal policy makers, industry leaders, environmental advocates, and leading practitioners in the field.  Held in Denver, Colorado, from November 30 through December 1, the conference presents a unique opportunity for professionals involved in and affected by endangered species issues, rules, and regulations to learn from in-depth presentations on topics including:

On December 15, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to remove the black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) from the list of Endangered and Threatened Species. The Service has concluded that listing is no longer warranted due to the species’ recovery.

The vireo is a small migratory songbird that breeds and nests in south-central Oklahoma, Texas, and the northern states of Mexico, and winters in Mexico’s western coastal states. The species was initially listed as endangered in October 1987 due to various threats, including nest parasitism ...

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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