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
Besides the EPA issue, our major priority is to work on the proposed amendment to the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act (S 145), a bill proposed in the Senate by US Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada).
We know we lack critical minerals. We know the causes. We know the need. We have the knowledge we need right now. Why can’t we just take action and fix the problem?
First, the US Forest Service does not have any authority to enforce or administer any “claim jumping” laws, period.
• Backdoor Wild Lands order
• PLP reports on latest dredge lawsuit
• Massive lands bill avoided
• No cap and trade for now
• RS-2477 rights affirmed
In every sense, this was a witch hunt with a preconceived agenda to heavily restrict or outright prohibit most small-scale mining in Oregon.
On November 30, 2015, the Galice Mining District (with the support of the Waldo Mining District), along with several Oregon mining associations and individuals, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment against the State of Oregon and SB 838...
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