Endangered Species Act

In a narrow win for plaintiff Wild Fish Conservancy (“Plaintiff”), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington held that the biological opinion (“BiOp”) for the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (“Hatchery”) was arbitrary and capricious because the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) failed to adequately consider the effects of climate change.

This case concerns a Hatchery located on Icicle Creek about three miles south of Leavenworth, Washington.  The purpose of the Hatchery is to replace spawning habitat impacted by construction of the Grand Coulee Dam, and it is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) and the Bureau of Reclamation (“BOR”).  Icicle Creek is home to two Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) listed species: the Upper Columbia River Chinook salmon and the Upper Columbia River steelhead.Continue Reading Up the Creek Without a Paddle: District Court Holds that Biological Opinion Must Consider Climate Change Impacts

On January 26, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) issued a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (the “Authority”) that found that the Authority’s contractors are not in compliance with the Authority’s original environmental commitments to the USFWS in performing the preliminary work on the first segment of the high-speed rail project (the

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (jointly, the “Services”) recently issued several interrelated proposals that address how critical habitat would be designated under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).

The Legal Alert analyzing the Services’ proposals, prepared by our colleagues Barbara Craig, Jeff Leppo, Ryan Steen, and Corinna McMackin, is available

In Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, No. B245141 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Mar. 20, 2014), the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision, which found that the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (“Department”) certification of an environmental impact statement and report (“EIR”) was “not supported by substantial evidence.”  In a sprawling 117-page, published Opinion, the appellate court rejected the notion that a 5,828-page, project level EIR, which did not approve any specific construction, was insufficient.

We focus only on the Department’s challenged certification of the EIR, which studied a resource management plan, conservation plan, and streambed alteration agreement, as well as the issuance of incidental take permits under California’s Endangered Species Act (“CESA”).  The underlying Newhall Ranch project, a specific plan approval in Los Angeles County, would allow residential, mixed-use, and non-residential land uses and provide up to 21,308 dwelling units, essentially building a new city.  The trial court found, among other things, that the Department “failed to conduct an independent review of project impacts,” that many of its findings were not supported by substantial evidence, and that it failed to prevent the taking of the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback (“stickleback”), a fully protected fish under CESA.Continue Reading Court Clarifies “Taking” Of Endangered Species And Highlights What’s “Enough” Under CEQA

On August 29, the Center for Biological Diversity served the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with notice of intent to sue for BLM’s failure to reinitiate consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) relating to oil and gas leases and drilling permits issued in California. The notice alleges that BLM has continued to authorize fracking activities in California based on outdated biological opinions that fail to evaluate the impact of new fracking techniques on listed species. If BLM does not reinitiate ESA consultation and “halt ongoing oil and gas leasing and drilling activities” with 60 days of the notice, the Center indicates it will file a citizen suit under the ESA.
Continue Reading Environmental Group Serves Notice of Intent to Sue BLM re Fracking in California

California has two more laws in place to help facilitate development of renewable energy projects after Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 267 and Senate Bill 618 over the weekend. 

SB 267 modifies the existing requirements to prepare a water supply assessment for projects that meet certain size thresholds.  Under the new law, a photovoltaic or

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors recently adopted the final measures for moving ahead with the County’s Frost Protection Program (the “Program”). This final act was merely a carry-over from the February 8  meeting where the Board adopted the fee structure for the Program and extended the time frame for implementation of the Program until