On Thursday, October 12, 2023, Judge Indira Talwani of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of the United States Department of the Interior and Vineyard Wind, and denied summary judgment to the plaintiffs in two cases challenging federal authorizations for the Vineyard Wind project: Seafreeze Shoreside, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Interior (Seafreeze) and Responsible Offshore Development Alliance v. U.S. Department of Interior (RODA). In both cases, the plaintiffs sought to overturn the federal approvals for the ...
On Friday, August 4, 2023, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) in the case of Melone v. Coit et al, 21-cv-11171 (Talwani, J.). The Court found that NMFS complied with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”) in authorizing construction of the Vineyard Wind project despite its impacts on the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), which is protected under the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act. …
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 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 September 30, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to amend its eagle permit regulations (Proposed Rule) administered in accordance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). The Proposed Rule seeks to improve administration of the eagle permit program by establishing a general permit pathway for eligible wind energy and power line applicants for incidental take of golden eagles and bald eagles. Eligibility criteria proposed by the Service for participation in the general permit program include factors such as eagle ...
On September 14, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to list the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) (TRBA) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The TRBA is known to occur in all or portions of 39 states across the northeast, as far south as southern Texas and Florida and as far west as Wyoming. Similar to the proposed rule to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered published earlier this year, the proposed rule cites white nose syndrome as the primary threat to the TRBA, but notes other factors influence the ...
On May 5, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) published its updated collision risk model (“CRM”) for bald and golden eagles at wind energy facilities. The CRM is a complex Bayesian model the USFWS has endorsed to predict eagle fatalities at wind energy facilities seeking eagle incidental take authorization under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (“BGEPA”). The USFWS previously published the proposed updates to CRM for public comment on two occasions, seeking input on three alternatives: (1) Use updated species-specific model inputs and use the ...
Please join us on May 6, 2021 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PT as Nossaman’s Coastal Development and Environment & Land Use Groups present “Charting a Course for Offshore Wind Energy in California” to discuss current proposals and pending regulations concerning offshore wind development along the California coast.
We will be participating on a top tier panel of coastal specialists which will also include: Kate Huckelbridge, Deputy Director of Energy, Ocean Resources & Federal Consistency, CA Coastal Commission; Jennifer Lucchesi, Executive Officer, State Lands ...
Linear infrastructure projects, including oil and gas pipelines, electric transmission lines and transportation, have faced a number of regulatory challenges over the past year, starting with last summer’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) amendments. Some of these challenges stem from changes in regulatory schemes or adverse court holdings, while others stem from uncertainty of pending ESA listing decisions and other actions.
In our recent webinar concerning Adapting Linear Infrastructure Projects to Changing Regulatory Frameworks, we discussed the path for energy providers to move forward and reduce the risk that projects may be delayed or scrapped down the road. One of the topics we covered was the 2019 regulatory amendments to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the following video clip from the webinar, we review some of the revised definitions and updated language in the new version of the regulations.
If you would like to view the full webinar ...
I 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 “Wind Power & Wildlife,“ I speak with Joy Page, Director of the Renewable Energy and Wildlife team at the Defenders of Wildlife about what it means to work on “wind and wildlife” issues and how that differs given our respective roles. We hope you find the conversation interesting and insightful.
People Places Planet Podcast provides the public, environmental practitioners, and ELI members with ...
On May 27, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit provided some additional guidance as to what constitutes agency action for purposes of triggering the consultation requirement under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court held that although the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on the effects of a proposed road project on BLM land, BLM was not required to consult on the effects of a proposed wind project that would be accessed via the federal road project. Sierra Club v. BLM, Case No. 13-15383 ...
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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