Conservation

News & Analysis as of

US Senate Passes Bipartisan Energy Bill

The first broad energy bill passed in nearly a decade was passed by the Senate on April 20, 2016 with an 85-12 vote margin. The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, S. 2012, responds to major changes to the energy...more

Court Rejects ESA Challenge to County’s Local Land Use Planning

On April 8, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida held that Collier County’s (County) land use planning regulations were complimentary, not contrary to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Designates Critical Habitat for 125 Hawaiian Species

On March 30, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) issued a final rule designating critical habitat for 125 species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) on the Hawaiian...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

Supreme Court Update: Hawkins V. Patterson (14-520), Tyson Foods V. Bouaphakeo (14-1146), Nebraska V. Parker (14-406), Sturgeon V....

So many announcements since our last Update. The President announced D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland as his pick to take the late Justice Scalia's seat on the Court; Senate Republicans promptly announced that they...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

Widely Divergent Views of Section 7 Consultation Described in PNAS Articles

In December 2015, Defenders of Wildlife employees published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which they compiled and conducted basic statistical analyses of data regarding section 7...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

Two Bears and A Lizard: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Two Rules and Draft Recovery Plan

On March 11, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released a final delisting rule, a proposed delisting rule, and a notice of a draft recovery plan. Each of these is discussed in the order in which they appear...more

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Decision Upholds Importance of Conservation Agreements

On March 1, the oil and gas industry won a significant victory when the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (“FWS”) decision that conservation agreements supported by the industry...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revisions to Mitigation Policy

On March 8, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced proposed revisions to its Mitigation Policy that has guided Service recommendations on mitigating the adverse impacts of development on fish, wildlife,...more

Local Wetlands Bylaw Decision Survives Pre-emption Challenge

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has again upheld the validity of a local conservation commission’s ruling under a local wetlands bylaw notwithstanding that the commission’s partial reliance on the State Wetland Protection Act...more

Listing Litigation: Courts Rule on Two Permian Basin Species

On February 29, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas rejected the Service’s request to reinstate federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus...more

Ninth Circuit Upholds Polar Bear Critical Habitat Designation

On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) designation of critical habitat in Alaska for the polar bear (Ursus maritimus). Alaska Oil and Gas...more

Up For Debate: What’s the Real Cost of Endangered Species Predation?

On February 10, 2016, lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans are scheduled to discuss several wildlife laws, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act...more

Utah Congressmen Unveil Landmark Public Land Bill

On January 20, Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz unveiled a “discussion draft” of the Utah Public Lands Initiative Act. The proposed bill undertakes the difficult task of balancing economic development and...more

The Final Northern Long-Eared Bat 4(d) Rule: Impacts to Energy Infrastructure Projects

Last spring, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the “Service”) published a final rule to list the northern long-eared bat (the “Bat”) as a threatened species and an interim 4(d) rule under the Endangered Species Act (the...more

Obama Administration Lays Out 2016 Regulatory Plans for Food and Agriculture

President Obama’s administration recently released its Regulatory Plan, which lays out department-specific regulatory priorities. Of interest to the food and agriculture industry are the agendas from the U.S. Department of...more

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House. Legislative Council Meets in Advance of 2016 Second Regular Session - Maine’s Legislative...more

SHE Matters: Business Implications of the Commission's New Circular Economy Strategy

Towards the end of 2015, the European Commission is due to publish its new, 'more ambitious' Circular Economy Strategy. The Strategy will develop proposals outlined in July 2014 which were controversially withdrawn at the...more

California Supreme Court Rules Mitigation Measures Constitute Take of Fully Protected Species

On November 30, 2015, the California Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Case No. S217763 (Nov. 30, 2015). The decision comes at...more

Phase I of Final Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Now Publicly Available

Following a public comment period and an extensive nine-month revision effort, the first phase of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan is finalized and available to the public. The initial draft of the DRECP, which...more

Presidential Memorandum on Natural Resources Mitigation Policy: Avoid, Minimize and Compensate

President Barack Obama recently ordered the heads of five federal agencies (U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Delists Delmarva Fox Squirrel

On November 16, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule (pdf) removing the Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) from the list of endangered and threatened species. Following its 2012...more

Interior Announces Blueprint for Renewable Energy and Transmission Development on Public Lands in the California Desert

Earlier this week, the Department of the Interior announced the federal component of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), an innovative landscape-scale plan that identifies areas best suited for...more

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