Legislative and Regulatory Update
September 2019 by Scott Harn
• ESA changes for the better
On August 12, 2019, the Trump administration finalized three rules governing the Endangered Species Act (ESA). (They are rather lengthy documents and links are provided at the end of this article.)
These rules are major improvements and will:
- Advise the public of the economic impact of a listing decision.
- Limit circumstances where unoccupied habitat can be designated as critical habitat.
- Remove the “blanket rule” that applied all prohibitions regarding endangered species to threatened species.
- Shift the burden to the Fish & Wildlife Service to define prohibitions for threatened species on a case-by-case basis subject to the rulemaking process.
- Provide a new definition for threatened species that will limit the scope of threats weighed in the listing decision to those which are probable in the foreseeable future.
- Streamline the de-listing process to removed recovered species from the list.
Clark Pearson (Public Lands for the People) and I had two in-person meetings with officials in the current administration in DC regarding these issues, and we are happy to see these specific items being addressed.
Further justification for the rulemaking comes from a unanimous decision by the US Supreme Court in Weyerhaeuser v. US Fish & Wildlife. In this 2018 case, the court ruled that the ESA must consider economic and other impacts before making a critical habitat designation.
In Weyerhaeuser, the Fish & Wildlife Service designated a parcel of land in Louisiana critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog. The frog currently lives hundreds of miles away in Mississippi and had not been seen in Louisiana for decades. Additionally, the land in question was deemed unsuitable for the frog, but the Service claimed that habitat can include areas that would require “some degree of modification.” The US Supreme Court disagreed.
Fish & Wildlife: Endangered and Threatened Species Interagency Cooperation: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/27/2019-17517/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-regulations-for-interagency-cooperation
Fish & Wildlife: Listing Species and Designation Critical Habitat: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/27/2019-17518/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-regulations-for-listing-species-and-designating
Fish & Wildlife: Prohibitions to Threatened Wildlife and Plants: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/27/2019-17518/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-regulations-for-listing-species-and-designating
We’ve heard from miners in Arizona about federal agencies closing off historic roads that provide access for miners, and we need your input.
- Welcome changes in Washington, DC
- Giving power back to the people
- Comments needed regarding proposed NEPA improvements
- Efforts underway to fix the ESA
Republican legislators say the funding is necessary to protect state interests...
The $800 million project will provide 300 jobs during production. It will be the only US mine where nickel is the primary targeted mineral, with about 360 million pounds to be extracted.
In May 2017, the district participated in a meeting with representatives from several state and federal agencies where they educated agency officials about the authority of Mining Districts, Mining Law and miner’s rights.
- DOI to address threatened species
- 141 Confirmations still pending
- California withdrawals canceled
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