Jun 022015

Afternoon update:

A coalition of environmental groups has filed a lawsuit (technically, a petition for review) in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's approval of Shell's exploration plan for the Chukchi Sea (Alaska Wilderness League v. Jewell). Scroll down for the petition. Here is the press release.

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FWS and NMFS will have to take another look at a Habitat Conservation Plan after a court found that the services did not comply with the law when they issued Incidental Take Permits (Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center v. NOAA, 13-3717-NC, N.D. Cal.).

Here's the conclusion of the order from U.S. District Judge Nathanael Cousins, who had previously issued an opinion

Based on the discussion above, the Court VACATES the northern-spotted-owl incidental take permit issued by FWS, the coho-salmon incidental take permit issued by NMFS, the coho-salmon biological opinion issued by NMFS, the coho-salmon incidental take statement issued by NMFS, and the Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by both FWS and NMFS. The Court finds that the seriousness of the Services’ errors significantly outweighs the asserted disruptive consequences that would result from vacatur. This case is therefore REMANDED to the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service for further proceedings consistent with this Order.

The Court, however, DENIES KS Wild’s motion to vacate the records of decision. The Court also DENIES KS Wild’s request for an injunction against the Services and Fruit Growers; in particular, KS Wild has not satisfied the irreparable-harm requirement. Finally, the Court DISMISSES KS Wild’s third claim because of its failure to brief the issue at summary judgment.


May 062015

Hearing, live (from Senate EPW page)

Link to EPW page on hearing

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also has introduced a bill, S. 1081, to ban the use of body-gripping traps in national wildlife refuges.

Center for Biological Diversity news release (click the links in the release for more information from THOMAS and the senators' web pages)

For Immediate Release, May 6, 2015

Contact Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121, bhartl@biologicaldiversity.org

Senate Republicans Take Aim at Endangered Species Act

Proposed Legislation Would End Protections for More Than 800 Species, Gut Critical Habitat, Politicize Science

WASHINGTON— The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing today on eight Republican-sponsored bills attacking the Endangered Species Act, including one that would end federal protection for more than 800 endangered animals and plants around the country.

Several of the bills are nearly identical to legislation introduced by Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives last year that sought to limit public participation and citizen enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, and undermine the scientific basis for protection decisions for our nation's most imperiled wildlife. Two bills — one introduced by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and one introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. — would eliminate endangered species protections for hundreds of currently protected species and severely weaken habitat protections for many more.

“In the past four years Republicans have introduced more than 50 bills to weaken the Endangered Species Act and 100 bills going after individual species. Not a single one, though, would help save an endangered plant and animal,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Polls consistently show a majority of Americans, including many Republicans, support protecting endangered species. These kinds of bills may please rich campaign donors – especially those exploiting the planet for profits – but they’re way outside the mainstream.”

Among the bills in today’s hearing:

S. 855, Sen. Paul’s so called “Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act,” would eliminate all Endangered Species Act protections for species found only within one state. More than 800 endangered species, including all endangered species in Hawaii and Puerto Rico would lose federal protections if this bill were to pass. Another provision of this bill requires that all endangered species lose their protection every five years, after which they would only regain protection if Congress passes a joint resolution. No endangered species anywhere in the world has ever recovered in fewer than five years. The bald eagle took nearly 40 years to recover, as did the peregrine falcon and gray whale.

S. 112, Sen. Heller’s so-called “Common Sense in Species Protection Act of 2015,” would require the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider short-term economic costs when protecting critical habitat for endangered species and require the agency to exclude areas if the costs were deemed too high. If passed, such a bill would almost certainly reduce habitat protections for plants and animals. Research has shown that species with designated critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering than those species without designated habitat

S. 292, introduced by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, would require that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publish on the Internet all data used for an endangered species listing decision, including detailed maps that could lead to more illegal poaching or collecting.

S. 293, also introduced by Sen. Cornyn, would limit the ability of the Service to settle cases without allowing state governments to intervene and would limit the availability of attorney’s fees available under the Endangered Species Act. By changing the basic judicial rules on when parties can intervene in lawsuits, the Department of Justice will not be able to settle patently unwinnable cases, forcing it to waste taxpayer resources in futile litigation. By slowing down litigation, species will continue to wait in limbo for protection under the Act.

S. 736, introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., would redefine the “best scientific data” to automatically include data provided by states, tribal governments or localities even if those data are in fact the most inaccurate, out-of-date data available. This bill would result in the Service using poorer data and making worse decisions regarding whether or not to protect endangered species, and would spur countless lawsuits arguing over what information qualifies as the best-available science. [Enzi page: "endangered species" search]

The proposals in the last three bills were all introduced in the last Congress in the House of Representatives.

“Republicans seem to introduce crazier and crazier legislation just to establish their Tea Party credentials for their favorite funders — the Koch brothers and the American Petroleum Institute,” said Hartl. “It’s sad that they continue to attack our most vulnerable endangered wildlife rather than trying to find solutions — such as fully funding endangered species recovery activities — to benefit our environment and our wildlife. This latest spectacle in the Senate looks to be just the first of many wasted opportunities over the next two years.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Apr 282015

A coalition of “timber, ranching, and forest recreation industries” lack standing to challenge the Forest Service’s 2012 planning rule, a federal judge has ruled (Federal Forest Resource Coalition v. Vilsack, 12-1333 KBJ, D.D.C.). “Plaintiffs have failed to show that the 2012 Planning Rule threatens an injury-in-fact that is imminent, or particularized. Moreover, because the injuries […]

Apr 272015

Press release Forest Service info on the Tennessee Creek Vegetation Management Project Conservation groups, concerned about the effects of a logging project on lynx denning habitat, have filed suit against the Forest Service in Colorado (WildEarth Guardians v. Conner, 15-858, D. Colo.). The defendant is Tamara Conner, District Ranger of the Leadville Ranger District in […]

Mar 022015

In an unpublished decision, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a timber industry attempt to delist the marbled murrelet (American Forest Resource Council v. Ashe, 13-5302). District court decisions: Sept. 5, 2013 and March 30, 2013 Center for Biological Diversity news release Here’s the text: MEMORANDUM Appellants attack the Fish and Wildlife Service’s denial […]

Feb 052015

See our Federal Register page for more Posted for Public Inspection  NMFS begins 5-year reviews of 32 listed species: 17 evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) of Pacific salmon; 11 distinct population segments (DPSs) of steelhead; the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin DPSs of yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, and bocaccio rockfish; and the southern DPS of eulachon | More […]

Jan 052015

The Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service adequately reviewed a thinning project in the Nez Perce National Forest, the Ninth Circuit concluded in an unpublished opinion released today (Alliance for the Wild Rockies (AWR) v. Brazell, 14-35050). The judges on the opinion are M. Margaret McKeown, Richard C. Tallman and Michael Daly Hawkins. AWR […]

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 […]