On January 10, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed amendments to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations. The Proposed Rule would represent the first significant overhaul of CEQ’s NEPA regulations in more than 40 years.
The changes in the Proposed Rule are substantial and numerous.
While the stated purpose of the changes is to facilitate more effective and timely environmental review of federal agency actions, the practical impact of the proposed changes is far from clear. Below, we focus on some of the more significant ...
On October 7, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the agency’s 12-month findings that a dozen species are not warranted for listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In particular, the FWS decided not to list the yellow-cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis), a slow-growing but commercially in-demand tree that occurs from southern Alaska to northern California. According to the FWS, yellow-cedars can live 500 to 700 years, with some individuals documented up to 1,600 years ...
On August 6, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a 90-day finding that listing the Yellowstone Park bison (Bison bison bison) under the Endangered Species Act is not warranted. FWS also found that listing the Mojave poppy bee (Perdita meconis) and revising the critical habitat designation for the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis) may be warranted ...
Nossaman’s Environmental Practice attorneys will be off to a great start in 2019 presenting at many key events around the U.S. focused on endangered species and environmental issues.
First, on January 10th, Austin-based Environment & Land Use Partner Brooke Wahlberg will speak at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2019 Policy Orientation in Austin. Brooke’s presentation is entitled Frogs or Freedom: Are New Limitations Coming for the Endangered Species Act? Policy Orientation is the premier gathering for all Americans interested in the future of the Lone Star State—and the country. At Policy Orientation, scholars ...
The distinct population segment of the North American wolverine (Gulo gulf luscus) has had a long and difficult history with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, things appeared to be changing in 2013, when, after denying a number of prior listing petitions at various stages of the process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its proposal to list the wolverine as a threatened species under the ESA, citing anticipated habitat loss due to climate change. (See our February 3, 2013 post for a summary of this history.) While this put the wolverine squarely on ...
On April 4, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) August 13, 2014 withdrawal of its proposed rule to list the distinct population segment of the North American wolverine (Withdrawal). The Withdrawal signaled a complete departure from the Service’s February 2013 proposed rule to list the wolverine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court’s decision is the newest chapter in what has been a contentious and storied path to a listing decision for the North American ...
On December 3, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published its proposed rule designating critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida hispida). (79 Fed. Reg. 71,714). The proposed designation, if finalized, would mark one of the largest critical habitat designations in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas, consisting of millions of acres. The seal, which was designated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in December 2012, is the smallest of the northern seals with an average lifespan of 15 to 28 years. (77 ...
In a closely watched and hotly contested challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to list the Polar Bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the final listing rule at 73 Fed. Reg. 28,212 (May 15, 2008) (pdf), the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a 116-page opinion (pdf) in which it upheld both the decision to list the bear as threatened, not endangered, and the Service's interpretation of "endangered species" as a species that is "on the brink of extinction."
In an article published in Yale Environment 360 on July 22, 2010, Todd Woody chronicles the ongoing campaign by various environmental organizations to use the Endangered Species Act to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The article, Enlisting Endangered Species As a Tool to Combat Warming, recounts the perils facing the American Pika, previously blogged about here, to illustrate the broader strategy aimed at forcing the Services to regulate GHG emissions.
As noted in our blog post ...
The Fish and Wildlife Service announced a 90-day finding that listing the whitebark pine as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act may be warranted. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) previously petitioned the Service to list the whitebark pine in 2008. It filed a lawsuit in March 2010 to force the Service to act on the listing petition. In its petition, NRDC claimed that climate change posed one of the most significant threats to whitebark pine. According to NRDC, whitebark pines are being threatened by several factors, which are exacerbated by ...
The regulatory requirements of the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") are imposing limitations on the development of renewable energy projects in the California desert. State and federal regulatory agencies are attempting to expedite ESA and other environmental reviews of proposed renewable energy projects. But the jury is out on whether these efforts will succeed. The ability of California to implement its precedent-setting climate change legislation hangs in the balance. As Governor Schwarzenegger stated "If we cannot put solar power in the Mojave Desert, I don't know where the ...
Another lawsuit (PDF) has been filed to force the Fish and Wildlife Service to act on a listing petition - this time for the whitebark pine tree, which is distributed across high-elevation areas in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and southwestern Canada. The Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned (PDF) the Service to list the whitebark pine in December 2008 claiming that climate change "poses one of the most significant threats to whitebark pine."
The whitebark pine listing petition is one of several recent petitions seeking protection ...
On February 10, 2010, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced its determination that a Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petition (PDF 6 MB) to list 83 species of stony coral as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act presents substantial information indicating that [listing] might be warranted for 82 of the 83 subject species. See 90-Day Finding (PDF).
If a threatened listing is warranted, NMFS may use its authority under Section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act to impose regulatory requirements necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the species, including the prohibition of take of any such species without an incidental take permit.
If any of the species are listed as endangered, they automatically benefit from the Act’s most potent protections: Under Section 7, federal agencies must insure that actions they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of its designated critical habitat. Under Section 9, persons are prohibited from taking or harming any endangered coral without first obtaining an incidental take statement under section 7 or an incidental take permit under Section 10. Furthermore, citizens may bring suit in federal court to enforce the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.
Thus, listing of coral could enable environmental groups to sue major emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the theory that their emissions cause the unpermitted take of, or harm to species imperiled by climate change.
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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