On August 11, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to delist the Apache trout (Oncorhynchus apache) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to the species’ recovery. The Apache trout, the state fish of Arizona, is a species of freshwater fish that is found primarily in the mountain region of southeast Arizona. This species was initially listed as an endangered species under the ESA in 1967. Then, in 1975, the Service downlisted the species to threatened status. The ESA defines a threatened species as one that is “likely to become ...
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 ...
Recently, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a concerned citizen against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) alleging Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations in connection with the Corps’ operation of the Coyote Valley Dam on the Russian River in Northern California. The court opined that federal defendants cannot avoid having to defend their prior actions simply by initiating the consultation process under section 7(a)(2) of the ESA, and the equities ...
On July 5, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order vacating three Trump-era regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).
In 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the “Services”) issued three final rules (“2019 ESA Rules”) modifying how the Services implement the ESA, including: (1) a rule under section 4 of the ESA concerning how the Services list, delist, and reclassify endangered or threatened species and the criteria for ...
On December 10, 2021, the Biden Administration released the Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda), which is a semi-annual compilation of information concerning regulations and policy under development by federal agencies. Department of the Interior (DOI) entries on the Unified Agenda reveal a lengthy set of planned regulatory actions, some of which may have an impact on development and deployment of energy, construction and operation of transportation and other infrastructure, and various other economic activities. …
On August 11, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted partial vacatur of an appeal brought by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) challenging a district court decision to vacate and enjoin use of the 2017 version of nationwide permit 12 (NWP 12).
The underlying lawsuit was brought by Northern Plains Resource Council against the Corps over the Corps’ authorization of impacts to waters of the United States under NWP 12 in connection with the Keystone XL pipeline. In April 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated NWP 12 throughout the ...
On June 4, 2021, the Biden administration announced its intent to rescind or revise several implementing regulations for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) finalized under the prior administration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has not yet published these proposed rules in the Federal Register, nor has the Service provided the exact dates when it intends to publish the proposed rules.
In its announcement, the Service indicates its intent to rescind regulations governing how the Service conducts critical habitat exclusion analyses under ESA section 4(b)(2) and how ...
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 ...
In Friends of the River v. National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California rejected challenges to Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service decisions regarding the impact of dams, hydropower facilities, and water diversions along the Yuba River on listed fish species, the spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), the Central Valley steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and the North American green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). In so doing, the court addressed a number of issues that may arise ...
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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