Dec 172014

The Ninth Circuit yesterday affirmed a lower court order upholding federal agencies’ review and approval of the Beaverslide Project and its effect on the threatened Northern spotted owl (Conservation Congress v. Finley, 12-16916).

See below for a summary of the decision, which addresses claims brought under the ESA, NFMA and NEPA. Follow the link in the first paragraph for the whole decision, or scroll down to read it.

The judges on the decision were Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas and Circuit Judges Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain and M. Margaret McKeown. Thomas wrote the opinion.

The district judge whose opinion was affirmed is Samuel Conti. (District court opinion)

 Summary (which “constitutes no part of the opinion of the court.
It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader.”)

The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in an action brought under the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act concerning a lumber thinning and fuel reduction project in northern California, known as the Beaverslide Project, and its effect on the threatened Northern Spotted Owl.

The panel first held the district court properly held that plaintiffs provided sufficient notice of intent to sue to confer jurisdiction on the district court to entertain the Endangered Species Act claims. The panel further held that the Endangered Species Act claims were not moot because the Forest Service’s and Fish and Wildlife Service’s newer post-2012 consultation on the Northern Spotted Owl’s critical habitat focused specifically on addressing the redesignation of critical habitat, and did not remedy the alleged failures in prior consultations to address information in a revised 2011 Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl.

The panel held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to the government on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims under the Endangered Species Act. The panel held that the district court properly concluded that the Forest Service did not violate the consultation requirements of 50 C.F.R. § 402.16 because the Forest Service did not fail to consider any allegedly “new information” covered by the 2011 Recovery Plan that was not previously considered. The district court also properly concluded that the agencies did not fail to use “the best scientific and commercial data available,” as required by the Endangered Species Act.

The panel held that the Forest Service’s and Fish and Wildlife Service’s consultations and conclusions that the Beaverslide Project was not likely to adversely affect the Northern Spotted Owl were adequate under 50 C.F.R. § 402.16, 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2), and the “hard look” standard of National Environmental Policy Act. Their actions therefore were neither arbitrary nor capricious.

Pebble Mine Partnership v. EPA (docket)

 Posted by on December 11, 2014
Dec 112014

U.S. District Court District of Alaska (Anchorage) CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 3:14-cv-00171-HRH Pebble Limited Partnership v. Environmental Protection Agency et al Assigned to: H. Russel Holland Related Cases: 3:14-cv-00097-HRH 3:14-cv-00199-HRH Cause: 05:551 Administrative Procedure Act Date Filed: 09/03/2014 Jury Demand: None Nature of Suit: 890 Other Statutory Actions Jurisdiction: U.S. Government Defendant Plaintiff Pebble Limited […]

Dec 112014

Updated 12/14/14 EPA has been barred from doing any work on its potential veto of a permit for a controversial gold mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. “[D]efendants must stop all work connected to the 404(c) proceeding. Defendants may not engage in any activities related to the 404(c) process,” U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland said […]

Dec 102014

An omnibus bill to fund the federal government, released yesterday, prohibits spending any money on listing decisions for four species of sage-grouse. The agreement reached between Senate and House negotiators targets the greater sage-grouse, Gunnison sage-grouse, Columbia Basin Distinct Population Segment of sage-grouse, and bi-state DPS of sage-grouse. Full text of the spending bill is […]

Dec 102014

The Forest Service must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act about “agreed operating procedures” on more than 100,000 acres of forest lands in Montana’s Swan Valley (Swan View Coalition v. Weber, 13-129-M-DWM, D. Mont.). U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy reaffirmed his Sept. 25 ruling requiring compliance […]

Dec 092014
Rufa red knot to be listed; teleconference set for today

Update 12/10/14: Final rule released for Public Inspection Update: FWS news release The Center for Biological Diversity has announced that the Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to list the rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) as threatened. FWS will hold a teleconference today at 2 p.m. (Eastern) to discuss the listing. FWS’s proposal is […]

Dec 082014

Following is a press release issued today (Monday, Dec. 8): CONTACT: Christie St. Clair (news media only) o: 202-564-2880 m: 202-768-5780 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 8, 2014 EPA Presidential Advisory Committee Issues Report on Ecological Restoration in the U.S. – Mexico Border Region WASHINGTON – The Good Neighbor Environmental Board today issued its 16th […]

Dec 032014

Updated Dec. 4 The Fish and Wildlife Service has released a new candidate species list that includes 18 Hawaiian flowering plants and four ferns found on one or more of the Hawaiian Islands. One other species is making its first appearance on the list: the Ma‘oma‘o, “a large, dusky olive-green honeyeater native to Upolu and […]

Dec 032014
"Study of deadly bat disease finds surprising seasonal pattern of infections" (UC-Santa Cruz)

From a UC-Santa Cruz news release: “It hits when the population is at its smallest, and by the end of winter nearly 100 percent of the bats in a cave can be infected, which helps explain why it has such large impacts,” said Kate Langwig, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz and first author […]

Dec 032014

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has approved a consent decree requiring the National Marine Fisheries Service to designate critical habitat for the New York Bight, Chesapeake Bay, Carolina, South Atlantic, and Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segments of the Atlantic sturgeon (Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. U.S. Dep’t of Commerce, 14-434-RBW, D.D.C.). Under the agreement, […]