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
Thomas Tierney has been a long-time subscriber to ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal and has read about the many battles between miners and overzealous regulators. Then he faced his own battle.
• Our Federal Landlord
• One down, two to go
• Challenging timing windows in Washington State
• More roadblocks to mining
As a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits, I’m not allowed to talk about specifics in the court-ordered negotiations currently underway in San Bernardino. However, I do want to let you know we are making progress…
Gold and jade are actually only minor mineral resources for the Northwestern Alaska region as a whole. Modern prospecting has focused more on base metal than precious metal resources.
- Key appointment at BLM
- Current administration not waiting for Congress
- BLM relocating
- Kansas exempts bullion from sales tax
The 100-yard restriction in SB838 actually applies to all motorized mining for the purpose of extracting gold, silver or any other precious metal that results in the disturbance of vegetation.
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