On October 7, 2021, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) will publish the first of two proposed rulemakings to revise National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations that had previously been updated in 2020 under the Trump Administration. As stated by CEQ in the proposal, the agency intends to “generally restore” NEPA regulations that were in place prior to the 2020 updates.
In this first phase of NEPA regulatory revisions, CEQ addresses the agency’s definition of “purpose and need,” the definition of “effects” of the action, and agency procedures for ...
Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published two proposed rules to delist a total of 24 species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). First, the Service published a proposed rule delist 23 species as a result of the species’ extinction. The 23 now-extinct species include thirteen species of birds, eight freshwater mussels, one Texas fish, and one Hawaiian plant. The Federal Register notice indicates that, based on the best available scientific and commercial data, these species are no longer extant, and therefore no longer meet the definitions of ...
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 ...
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 ...
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) announced the availability of two revised economic analysis documents related to the agency’s proposed rule concerning incidental take under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”). The documents evaluate the potential for the proposed rule to impact small entities, including businesses, governmental jurisdictions, and other organizations.
When federal agencies issue a new proposed or final rule, they are required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (“RFA”) to evaluate the potential effects ...
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 ...
On July 7, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register announcing the agency’s finding that the razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) no longer warrants listing as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). As such, FWS has proposed to downlist the species to threatened status.
The razorback sucker is a freshwater fish measuring up to 3 feet long that gets its name from the bony ridge behind its head. The species is commonly found throughout the reservoirs, floodplains, and backwaters of the Colorado ...
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced the next chapter in the lesser prairie chicken’s (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) (LEPC) tumultuous listing history. On May 26, 2021 the USFWS announced that it will propose a rule to establish a Northern distinct population segment (DPS) and a Southern DPS of the LEPC. USFWS has proposed to list the Southern DPS – consisting of portions of New Mexico and Texas – as endangered. If finalized, the ESA take prohibition would apply across the Southern DPS without exception. The USFWS proposes to list the Northern DPS ...
In the first week of May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) proposed rules to remove six species from the lists of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).
On May 4, 2021, NMFS issued a proposed rule to remove Siderastrea glynni, a coral originally found at Urabá Island, Panama Gulf, from the ESA lists. The coral was first discovered in 1992 and was initially thought to be the only extant Siderastrea species in the eastern Pacific Ocean. NMFS received a petition to ...
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 ...
On September 8, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a proposed rule codifying procedures for excluding areas of “critical habitat” under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). ESA section 4(b)(2) provides discretionary authority to the USFWS and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as administrators of the ESA, to exclude certain areas from critical habitat designations for species within their purview. These agencies can exclude areas from a critical habitat designation where the agencies conclude the benefits of excluding the areas ...
On August 19, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule that would remove the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) from the federal list of Endangered Species. The proposed rule would, instead, list the kangaroo rat as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and would provide a rule under ESA section 4(d) to provide for conservation of the kangaroo rat.
The Stephens’ kangaroo rat was originally listed as an endangered species in 1988. It is a small, nocturnal mammal, with external cheek pouches, large hind legs, a long tail ...
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 ...
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 ...
On Friday, September 29, 2017, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) announced its withdrawal of the proposed rule listing the Kenk’s amphipod (Stygobromus kenki), an aquatic crustacean, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service originally proposed to list the amphipod, which occurs in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland, in September 2016 due to the impacts of water quality, water quantity, and other collateral impacts of urbanization near the species’ habitat. In support of its decision to withdraw the proposed ...
Earlier this week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) issued a notice in the Federal Register that it was reopening the comment period on five proposed rules for four plant species. Specifically, the proposed rules include the following: (1) listing Guadalupe fescue (Festuca ligulata) as an endangered species; (2) designating Guadalupe fescue critical habitat; (3) reclassifying Tobusch fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii) from endangered to threatened; (4) reclassifying Kuenzler hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus fendleri var.
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 ...
As we reported in October, after significant pressure from Congress, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its intent to re-open the public comment period on its proposal to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat for the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Yesterday, the Service announced the re-opening of the public comment period, stating that the public comment period would be open "for an additional 60 days to ensure the public has ...
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (PDF) in the Federal Register that will, if adopted, change the Services' standards for listing and delisting species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). See Draft Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase ‘‘Significant Portion of Its Range’’ in the Endangered Species Act’s Definitions of ‘‘Endangered Species’’ and ‘‘Threatened Species.’’ 76 Fed. Reg. 76,987 (Dec. 9, 2011).
Under 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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