Category: Endangered Species

Subscribe to Endangered Species RSS Feed

California Affirms Protections for Migratory Birds Despite Contrary Federal Stance

California’s Attorney General and Department of Fish and Wildlife have jointly issued an advisory affirming that California law continues to provide robust protections for migratory birds, including prohibiting incidental takes, notwithstanding the recent reinterpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The advisory notes that three lawsuits (including one … Continue Reading

Federal Agencies Must Modify Operations at Columbia River Hydroelectric System to Protect Salmonid Species

The Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed a district court order requiring that the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation conduct spill operations and monitoring at dams and related facilities in the Federal Columbia River Power System in order to protect migrating salmon and … Continue Reading

Federal Appeals Court Rejects Challenges to Newhall Ranch EIS and Section 404 Permit

In the latest decision in the long-running legal saga over the proposed Newhall Ranch development in Los Angeles County, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the Army Corps of Engineers’ EIS and Section 404 permit, giving substantial deference to the Corps’ decisionmaking. Friends of the Santa Clara River v. U.S. Army … Continue Reading

Major Changes Proposed to Endangered Species Act Regulations

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service recently published three proposed rules that would make major revisions to the regulations implementing portions of the Endangered Species Act. The proposed rules would change the criteria and procedures for (1) establishing protections for “threatened” species; (2) the listing and delisting of species and the … Continue Reading

Department of Interior Declares That Only Deliberate Acts Constitute Take of Migratory Birds

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor has issued Memorandum M-37050, dated December 22, 2017, which concludes that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s prohibition on the “taking” or “killing” of migratory birds applies only to deliberate acts, such as hunting, intended to take a migratory bird. The legal opinion reverses the Obama … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Upholds Biological Opinion for Silver State South Solar Project in Nevada

In Defenders of Wildlife v. Zinke, the Ninth Circuit upheld the Biological Opinion prepared by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to assess the impacts on the threatened desert tortoise from the Silver State South solar project in southern Nevada.  856 F.3d 1248 (9th Cir. 2017).  A key takeaway from the decision is the substantial deference … Continue Reading

Delisting petition may challenge original listing of endangered species based upon new evidence

The California Supreme Court has ruled that, under the California Endangered Species Act, a plaintiff may use a delisting petition to challenge the original decision by the California Fish and Game Commission to list an endangered species—even in the absence of changes occurring after the original listing of the species.  Central Coast Forest Association v. … Continue Reading

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Adopts 30-Year Eagle Take Rule

As we previously reported, in August 2015, a federal court nullified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rule increasing the length of programmatic permits to “take” bald and golden eagles to 30 years. The court held that the Service was required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment before adopting the rule. The Service … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Upholds BLM’s Approval of Renewable Wind Energy Project

On the heels of a decision nullifying the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of a wind energy project under the National  Environmental Policy Act (reported on here),  the Ninth Circuit rejected a challenge to BLM approval of another wind turbine project, finding it consistent with NEPA, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and … Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service Reissues 30-Year Eagle Take Rule

As we previously reported, in August 2015, a U.S. District Court in San Francisco nullified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new rule increasing the length of programmatic permits to “take” bald and golden eagles from 5 years to 30 years.  Shearwater v. Ashe, No.14-CV-02830-LHK (N. Dist. Ca, Aug. 11, 2015). In striking the rule, the … Continue Reading

Complex New Requirements for CEQA Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Set by Supreme Court

Newhall Ranch, a proposed mega-development in Los Angeles County, can’t seem to catch a break: besieged by setbacks since Newhall Land first filed an application to develop the land in 1994, the project has been the subject of over twenty-one public hearings and several law suits over its more than twenty year history. In Center … Continue Reading

District Court Strikes 30-Year Eagle Take Rule

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s adoption of a new rule increasing the maximum duration of programmatic permits to “take” bald and golden eagles from 5 years to 30 years.  Shearwater v. Ashe, No.14-CV-02830-LHK (N. Dist. Ca, Aug. 11, 2015).  This 30-Year Rule … Continue Reading

The Importance of Independence: The Ninth Circuit Provides Helpful Clarification on Connected Actions in the Energy Project Development Context

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a right-of-way for an access road over Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to connect a wind project to a state highway did not trigger formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act because the proposed access road would not have significant impacts to the environment. Sierra … Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service Launches Regulatory Initiative on Migratory Bird Incidental Take

For the first time since the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted in 1918, the federal government is proposing a permit system to authorize the incidental take of the more than 1,000 species of migratory birds. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is strict liability criminal law, and it has been the subject of several recent … Continue Reading

California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s EIR for Fish-Stocking and Hatchery Program Upheld

A court of appeal has held that the first-ever environmental impact report for the state’s fish hatchery and stocking programs complies with CEQA, but also found that three of the EIR’s mitigation measures constituted “underground regulations” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Third … Continue Reading

25th Annual Briefing on Land Use and Development Law — Materials Available

Perkins Coie attorneys — most of whom contribute regularly to this report — recently presented the 25th Annual Land Use & Development Law Breakfast Briefing in Palo Alto, San Francisco and Walnut Creek.   The presentation focused on 2014 developments and trends in land use, affordable housing, school facilities financing, CEQA, real estate and environmental and resources … Continue Reading

Airport Challenge Does Not Fly: Court Upholds Use of Addendum for Changes to San Jose Airport Master Plan

The City of San Jose’s use of an addendum for recent modifications to the San Jose Airport’s Master Plan has been upheld by the court of appeal.  Citizens Against Airport Pollution v. City of San Jose, H038781 (6th Dist.  July 2, 2014). In 1988, the City of San Jose began to prepare an update to its … Continue Reading

State Water Resources Control Board May Weigh the Use of Water for Public Purposes Against Commercial Use by Riparian Users and Early Appropriators in Determining Reasonableness of Commercial Use

A court of appeal, for the first time, has upheld the  State Water Resources Control Board’s authority to restrict valid pre-1914 and riparian water rights on the ground that their exercise has become an unreasonable use of water under current circumstances. While it has long been accepted that California law requires that water be put to … Continue Reading

Criminal Penalties for Bird Deaths Caused by Wind Projects

In the first criminal case ever prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Justice filed misdemeanor charges against Duke Energy for more than 163 migratory bird deaths, including golden eagles, at its wind power projects near Casper, Wyoming.  On November 22, 2013, the case was resolved by … Continue Reading

Federal Agencies Cannot Use Consent Decrees To Adopt Stricter Regulatory Requirements, According to Ninth Circuit

Can a district court “approve resolution of litigation involving a federal agency though a consent decree, which substantially and permanently amends regulations that the agency could only otherwise amend by complying with statutory required rulemaking procedures”?  The Ninth Circuit’s answer was no.  Conservation Northwest v. Sherman (9th Cir. Case No. 11-35729, Apr. 25, 2013).  The case … Continue Reading

Definition of “Agency Action” under the Endangered Species Act to be Reheard by Ninth Circuit

In July 2012, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in Natural Resources Defense Council v. Salazar, 686 F.3d 1092 (9th Cir. 2012),  that the decision by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to renew a series of water service contracts in connection with the Central Valley Project did not constitute “agency action” under the Endangered … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case Under California Endangered Species Act

The California Endangered Species Act allows interested parties to file a petition with the California Fish & Game Commission to list or delist a species as threatened or endangered.  If the Commission accepts the petition, it then decides whether to take the action requested in the petition, based on a scientific report by the California Department of … Continue Reading
LexBlog