Last week IMA-NA, in conjunction with several other associations, submitted comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) on two rulemakings and one policy proposal regarding the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The comments are a continuation of IMA-NA’s engagement with the Services related to the increased ESA activity. The newest rulemakings address the designation of critical habitat for threatened or endangered species and the definition of destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. Additionally, the proposed policy covers implementation of Section 4(b)(2) of the ESA, which addresses how the Services will determine exclusions of areas from designation as critical habitat.
These additional proposed rulemakings and policy exemplify a vast and unnecessary expansion of federal jurisdiction of land use under ESA. The expansion of Service authority to designate critical habitats and land usage also reinforces regulatory uncertainty for the business community. The potential impact on land usage in the Western states should the Services finalize the proposals is largely negative. IMA-NA and our coalition of ally associations will continue to be engaged with the Services as these proposals go through the process.
In related news, the Services announced in August a re-opening of the comment period on the decision to designate the Greater Sage Grouse as a threatened species under ESA or not. The Services are now anticipating making a final determination by April 28, 2015. To view the Federal Register announcement click here.
To read the comments please click here.