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
• IBLA rules against miner for "late" filing
• Wyoming appeals roadless decision
• Mercury reduction program slated for California
• Oregon wilderness
• Oregon miner prevails in lawsuit against Forest Service and District Ranger
• Canada pulls out of Kyoto Climate Treaty
We will be bringing the first of several bills that were requested by Congress during a previous MMAC trip and presenting maps depicting all the MMAC-assisted Mining Districts.
• The good, the bad, and the ugly
• California and Oregon dredge permits
Many of you are aware that we have been engaged in litigation with anti-mining activists that have been attacking us through the Karuk Tribe of California since 2003. It all started with their lawsuit against the US Forest Service (USFS), challenging that District Rangers do not have the authority to allow small-scale mining activities under a Notice of Intent (NOI) when the Ranger concludes that the mining activity is not likely to create a substantial surface disturbance.
State regulators imposed a record $11 million fine on the operators of a gold mine in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento.
• California suction dredgers had better prepare for battle
The Bawl Mill • Ask The Experts - How do I remove the silvery-white coating from my gold? • Ask The Experts - Is it possible to mine glacial moraine placer deposits? • Ask The Experts - Why are some valid mining claims missing from apps when researching land status? • Ask The Experts - Is using a drywasher legal in California • A High Country Patch • An Update On The Father's Day Gold Discovery • Exploring The Historic Rand Mining District, Southern California • Disturbing Trend: Federal Judges Disregard Mining Laws • My First Carolina Nugget • How to Refine Silver—Pt I • Step-by-Step Crevicing • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mom Finds 3.72-Carat Yellow Diamond • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices