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Agencies Release Proposed Rule to Rescind Obama-Era Clean Water Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule on June 27, 2017, that will rescind the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Water Rule and recodify the pre-2015 regulations that...more

Fish and Wildlife Service Approves New 30-Year Eagle Act Rule

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has formally approved the long-awaited, 30-year eagle take rule, which will allow renewable energy companies and other developers of large projects to obtain a 30-year permit (as opposed to...more

Executive Order Signals Federal Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Will Be Narrowed

In the latest chapter of the seemingly never-ending controversy over the Clean Water Act’s reach, on February 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S....more

DOI Issues Solicitor’s Opinion That MBTA Prohibits Incidental Take

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor issued Memorandum M-37041 on January 10, 2017, arguing that incidental take is prohibited under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The solicitor’s opinion was...more

Second Circuit Upholds EPA’s Water Transfers Rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Transfers Rule last week. Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, et al. v. EPA, et al. 14-1823, 14-1909,...more

D.C. Circuit Overturns FWS Approval of Wind Farm Due to Bat Concerns

The U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit recently held that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving an Ohio wind energy project without looking at all...more

Ninth Circuit Finds Navy’s Low Frequency Active Sonar Program Violates Marine Mammal Protection Act

In NRDC v. Pritzker, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirmed that the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s (MMPA) incidental take authorizations will be construed narrowly and conservatively, giving the benefit of...more

Controversy Over Interior’s Trust Authority in Alaska Remains Unresolved

A majority panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently dismissed the State of Alaska’s challenge to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s authority to acquire land in trust for Alaska...more

DOJ’s Increased Focus on Environmental Criminal Cases

Recently, John C. Cruden, DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), which oversees DOJ’s environmental litigation, voiced a heightened commitment to enforcing...more

Supreme Court Rules that Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Determinations Are Reviewable in Court

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on May 31, 2016 that an approved jurisdictional determination issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water Act is a final agency action subject to judicial review. Hawkes Co.,...more

If At First You Do Not Succeed: Fish and Wildlife Service Tries Again With 30-Year Eagle Act Permit

On May 6, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS or Service) published a proposed rule (Proposed Rule) that would substantially change how the Service administers its conservation and management program under the Bald and...more

Supreme Court Holds the Ninth Circuit Misinterpreted the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act

In 2007, National Park Service rangers stopped John Sturgeon from travelling by hovercraft on the Nation River within the boundaries of Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Park Service regulations ban the use of...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Updates Native American Tribe Policy

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced an updated Native American policy on January 27, 2016, which provides a framework for government-to-government relationships to further the federal government’s trust...more

Ninth Circuit Reinstates Polar Bear Habitat Designation, ESA Implications for the West

In a decision that could result in significant new restrictions on development activities in the Arctic as well as set important Endangered Species Act (ESA) precedent in the Western United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals...more

FWS Proposes Revisions to Development Mitigation Policy

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published draft revisions on March 8, 2016 to its 1981 Mitigation Policy for mitigating the impacts of development projects to natural resources. See Proposed Revisions to the U.S....more

New Critical Habitat Regulations Published Under the Endangered Species Act

On February 11, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service jointly published final regulations and a final policy addressing critical...more

Congress Enacts Federal Permitting Improvements to Speed Infrastructure Projects

Congress enacted the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, also known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (the FAST Act) on December 4, 2015. A part of the FAST Act, Title XLI—Federal...more

Supreme Court to Resolve Split on Court Review of Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Determinations

The U.S. Supreme Court decided last week to review a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that jurisdictional determinations under the Clean Water Act are final agency actions subject to judicial...more

Federal Appeals Court Blocks Clean Water Rule Nationwide

In an attempt to “temporarily silence[] the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has blocked the new rule defining “waters of the United States” under the...more

Sonoran Desert Tortoise Not Endangered or Threatened Says FWS

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service determined on October 5, 2015 that the Sonoran Desert Tortoise, found primarily in Arizona, does not qualify as either an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered...more

Birds of a Feather: The 5th Circuit Joins the 8th and 9th Circuits’ Narrow View of the MBTA’s Take Prohibition

On September 4, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held in United States v. CITGO Petroleum Co. that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s take prohibition does not include the unintentional take of migratory...more

Federal Court Stops Clean Water Act Rule from Going into Effect in 13 States

On August 27, 2015, Chief Judge Ralph Erickson of the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction that stops EPA’s and the Army Corps of Engineers’ new rule defining federal...more

The Ninth Circuit Holds Transfer of Water in Klamath River Basin Does Not Require Clean Water Act NPDES Permit

On August 21, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an Oregon district court’s ruling that a Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit is not required for the discharge of water from...more

Federal District Court Strikes Down Eagle Act Rule

On August 11, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California struck down the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s so-called “30-Year Rule,” which had extended from 5 years to 30 years the duration of...more

New Fracking Regulations on Disclosure and Disposal Could Cost Industry $32M Per Year

New regulations setting standards for hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, in oil and gas wells drilled on federal lands were issued recently by the Obama administration through the U.S. Department of the...more

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