Linear infrastructure projects, including oil and gas pipelines, electric transmission lines and transportation, have faced a number of regulatory challenges over the last year. Some of these challenges stem from changes in regulatory schemes, adverse court holdings or drastically shifting policy initiatives. Others result from the uncertainty inherent in pending listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act, updates to the Nationwide Permitting Program under the Clean Water Act, the ever-changing definition of Waters of the United States and the Biden ...
On May 7, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), as many anticipated, published a proposed rule to revoke a Trump Administration rule impacting the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The Trump Administration rule was finalized on January 7, 2021 and became effective March 8, 2021. It clarified that the MBTA’s prohibition against the take of migratory birds did not extend to death or injury of migratory birds that results from, but is not the purpose of, an action (also known as incidental take). Prior to the Trump Administration Rule, USFWS had, for decades ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
We recently recorded a podcast as part of the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) People Places Planet Podcast series “Engage the Experts.” In our recent discussion entitled “The Shifting Landscape of Renewable Energy Development,” we discuss recent changes in environmental regulations and related court decisions that are impacting project development, as well as what this shifting terrain means for the development, expansion and maintenance of renewable energy technologies. Tune in to learn about what recent regulatory and judicial developments mean for ...
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...
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a pre-publication version of its long-awaited update to regulations governing Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) implementation (Proposed Regulations). Significantly, the Proposed Regulations explicitly state that unintentional, non-purposeful, or “incidental” take of migratory birds is not prohibited by the MBTA’s “take” prohibition. USFWS has also published a pre-publication version of a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement pursuant to the National Environmental ...
Please join Brooke Wahlberg and Steve Quarles as they co-chair CLE International’s 3rd Annual MBTA & BGEPA Conference, happening on December 9-10, 2019, in Denver, CO.
Named as both an “Energy & Environmental Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal, and a “Legend of Environmental Law” by the D.C. Bar Association, Steve is a veteran attorney who focuses his practice on addressing issues concerning federal wildlife laws (Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA)), federal lands and resources ...
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 ...
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 June 7, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected plaintiffs’ claim, among others, that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) by granting a right-of-way to a private company to develop and operate a wind energy facility. Protect Our Communities Foundation v. Jewell, No. 14-55842, 14-55666 (9th Cir. June 7, 2016).
Plaintiffs argued that BLM—by granting a right-of-way to Tule Wind LLC (Tule)—was "complicit" in future conduct by Tule that might result in violations of the MBTA. Beyond this assertion of ...
On February 10, 2016, lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans are scheduled to discuss several wildlife laws, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The Oversight Hearing is entitled The Costly Impacts of Predation and Conflicting Federal Statutes on Native and Endangered Species. Anticipated topics for discussion include addressing the fact that conflicts between federal statutes often prevent agencies and federal officials from effectively reducing ...
Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), it is unlawful to "pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill . . . any migratory bird" protected by the Act. 16 U.S.C. 703(a) & 704(a). In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that although the MBTA imposes a strict liability standard for any of the aforementioned acts, in order for an unlawful "taking" to occur, the defendant must have taken a "deliberate act done directly and intentionally to migratory birds." United States v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., No. 14-40128 (5th Cir. Sept. 4 ...
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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