LSI Telebriefing: Changes to Endangered Species Act Critical Habitat Designations

Law Seminars International

July 9, 2014

At the behest of Congress and the regulated community, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have agreed to extend the comment period for their recent proposed changes to the critical habitat designation under the Endangered Species Act. This new comment period gives regulated industry and developers extra time to both draft comments that could mitigate the impacts of the rule and prepare for its eventual adoption.

The proposed rules would revise existing regulations governing how the USFWS and NMFS identify and designate critical habitat, as well as when a proposed action will be determined to adversely modify designated critical habitat. The proposed policy would clarify how the agencies will exercise the discretion inherent in determining whether to exclude an area from a critical habitat designation. USFWS and NMFS describe these revisions as largely codifying existing practices, with the goal to make the process of designating and consulting on critical habitat more predictable, more efficient, and more easily understand. The regulated community has expressed concern that if finalized as proposed, these regulatory changes will provide the Services greater latitude to designate expansive areas of both occupied and unoccupied habitat as critical habitat, as well as increase the likelihood that federal actions will be determined to adversely modify designated critical habitat. Such changes could have important implications for activities that require federal permits or funding on both public and private lands, potentially subjecting such activities to time-consuming consultation and requiring changes to the activities to avoid adverse effects on the potential recovery of listed species.

Please join Van Ness Feldman Partner, Jonathan Simon, who will be moderating this one hour TeleBriefing featuring an expert panel of government officials and environmental practitioners leading advanced discussion of the proposed regulations and policy and their potential implications, including Gary Frazer, Assistant Director for Ecological Services at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For more information and to register, please click here.