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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
On June 16, 2023, in a highly anticipated decision, the United States Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit set aside a biological opinion regarding the effects of the federal lobster fishery on the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The court held that a presumption in favor of an endangered species is not required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and, further, that such a presumption can distort the agency’s scientific judgment and did so in this circumstance.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued the biological opinion in 2021 analyzing the ...
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 ...
On May 15, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued two mitigation policies: one titled “Mitigation Policy” and another titled “Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy.” The Mitigation Policy provides a framework to inform Service mitigation procedure and policy, while the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Compensatory Mitigation Policy provides guidance on implementation of the ESA through compensatory mitigation mechanisms. The Service states that both policies are intended as guidelines for Service personnel to follow when ...
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 ...
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 ...
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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