Jul 092014
 

The National Marine Fisheries Service and Fish and Wildlife Service have released final rules designating critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles in the Northwest Atlantic. (NMFS page on loggerhead CH) (FWS page). The rules are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register Thursday, July 10.

The NMFS rule includes marine areas; the FWS rule includes the beaches that loggerheads use as nesting areas.

The Center for Biological Diversity hailed the decision, saying that the largest CH designation in history -- including 685 miles of beaches from Mississippi to North Carolina and more than 300,000 square miles of ocean — "promises to conserve areas necessary for recovery." (More from CBD)

FWS noted that its rule includes "88 nesting beaches in coastal counties located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. These beaches account for 48 percent of an estimated 1,531 miles of coastal beach shoreline used by loggerheads, and about 84 percent of the documented numbers of nests, within these six states."

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/images/loggerhead_critical_habitat_map.jpg

Map from NMFS

Jul 092014
 

July 9 -- In his opening statement at a markup of the Interior and Environment spending bill, subcommittee chairman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) made a point of addressing some of the ESA provisions:

calvert-at-approps-7914

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), before subcommittee hearing on FY 2015 Interior-Environment appropriations bill (Click for video of Calvert)

"This subcommittee has no interest in forcing any species to go extinct. What we're concerned about is federal regulatory action based more on arbitrary legal deadlines than on common sense. Nowhere is this more evident than with sage-grouse.

"States are rightfully concerned that a federal takeover of sage-grouse will jeopardize existing conservation partnerships with states and private landowners which are necessary to save sage-grouse. This takeover would eliminate jobs and curtail future job growth; devastate state and local economies; and undermine the nation's ability to develop conventional and renewable resources for energy independence.

"So long as sage-grouse are not under imminent threat of extinction, cooperative conservation must be given a chance to work. That is why this bill includes a one-year delay on any decision to list sage-grouse along with a strong cross-cutting budget to help implement these collaborative conservation plans."

Excerpts:

VALLEY ELDERBERRY LONGHORN BEETLE

SEC. 116. None of the funds made available by this Act or any other Act may be used before October 1, 2015, for any study, nor to withdraw or finalize any rule, with regard to the valley elderberry longhorn beetle under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1351 et seq.), except that the Secretary of the Interior shall accept for the record additional public comments on the Peer Review of the Scientific Findings in the Proposed Rule to Delist the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle, dated January 2013, for a period of no less than 180 days following the date of the enactment of this Act.

SAGE-GROUSE

SEC. 117. None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary of the Interior to write or issue pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533)—

(1) a proposed rule for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus);
(2) a proposed rule for the Columbia basin distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse;
(3) a final rule for the bi-state distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse; or (4) a final rule for Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus).

AMPHIBIANS

SEC. 118. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service shall release for public comment and submit for scientific peer review not later than December 30, 2015, individual or multi-species recovery plans for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog; the northern distinct population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog; and the Yosemite toad. The plans shall include analyses of social and economic impacts of implementing recovery actions as well as efforts to minimize such impacts as required by the policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 Fed. Reg. 34272 et seq.).

WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES

SEC. 429. None of the funds made available in this Act or any other Act for any fiscal year may be used to develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce any change to the regulations and guidance in effect on October 1, 2012, pertaining to the definition of waters under the jurisdiction of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. § 1251, et seq.), including the provisions of the rules dated November 13, 1986 and August 25, 1993, relating to said jurisdiction, and the guidance documents dated January 15, 2003 and December 2, 2008, relating to said jurisdiction.

STREAM BUFFER

SEC. 430. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to develop, carry out or implement (1) guidance, policy, or directive to reinterpret or change the historic interpretation of 30 C.F.R. § 816.57, which was promulgated on June 30, 1983 by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement of the Department of the Interior (48 Fed. Reg. 30,312); or (2) proposed regulations or supporting materials described in the Federal Register notice published on June 18, 2010 (75 Fed. Reg. 34,667) by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement of the Department of the Interior.

LIMITATION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR NATIONAL OCEAN POLICY

SEC. 432. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to develop, propose, finalize, administer, or implement the National Ocean Policy developed under Executive Order 13547. Not later than 60 days after the date on which the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget request is submitted to the Congress, the President shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate identifying all Federal expenditures by fiscal year since 2011, by agency, account, and any pertinent subaccounts, for the development,  administration, or implementation of such National Ocean Policy. The President’s budget submission for fiscal year 2016 shall identify all funding proposed for the implementation of such National Ocean Policy.

DEFINITION OF FILL MATERIAL

SEC. 439. None of the funds made available in this Act or any other Act may be used by the Environmental Protection Agency to develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce any change to the regulations in effect on October 1, 2012, pertaining to the definitions of the terms "fill material" or "discharge of fill material" for the purposes of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251, et seq.).

A few quotes

Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the full appropriations committee, also spoke. A couple of highlights:

Administration "has tried to find new regulations that hamper economic activity."

On waters of the U.S. proposal: "EPA seeks to gain jurisdiction over most of the country."

On getting requested information from agencies. No agency, he says, is worse than EPA; "they just simply will not respond to inquiries." EPA's congressional affairs and budget office funding cut by 50 percent. Funding for EPA Administrator's office also cut by half. "So let the word go forth. We want info."

Moran: "Obviously there are going to be amendments at the full committee level. This is as good a bill ... as we could have gotten out of subcommittee." The issues "will be fully debated at the full committee level."