(New case.) Plaintiffs claim 23 surface water diversions on the Sawtooth National Forest adversely affect listed fish species, and that the Forest Service failed to consult on them with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service as required by the Endangered Species Act. (D. Idaho) (Also discussed here.)
This Supreme Court decision favored industry plaintiffs objecting to the Obama Administration’s 2015 regulation defining the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) subject to the Clean Water Act by holding that the case must be heard initially in a district court rather than an appeals court. This maneuvering is likely related to the fact that the Trump Administration is in the process of changing the 2015 regulation. (U.S.) (More information may be found here.)
(New case.) The Tribe’s claim is that federal agencies have a mandatory duty to exercise jurisdiction over permit applications for discharge from a mine into the Menominee River and adjacent wetlands, and cannot delegate that responsibility to the State of Michigan. (E.D. Wis.)
The Fish and Wildlife Service improperly denied petitions to list bison under the Endangered Species Act in its initial (90-day) finding because competing scientific theories indicated that the species “may” be warranted for listing. (D. D.C.)
The Forest Service summary doesn’t really explain the importance of the disagreement about genetics. One of the claims in the petitions is that while the existing plan to maintain the population at 3000 individuals could be an adequate regulatory mechanism to protect one genetic population (inadequate regulatory mechanisms being one of the factors for listing species), it would not be adequate to maintain two genetically distinct herds (arguably requiring 3000 in each herd, and I think one of the studies must be suggesting that the loss of one genetic population would threaten the species as a whole).
Also, it is important to recognize that the “may” be warranted standard prevents the agency from making its own determination of the best science at the 90-day stage. That is what federal agencies normally get to do. The second stage of the ESA listing process is the 12-month finding, and that is where the FWS must decide if listing is actually warranted, based on its weighing of the science.
These bison are also an issue in the Custer-Gallatin forest plan revision process (noted here).