Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
February 9, 2021, Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California; June 3, 2021, Filed
[*1063] HURWITZ, Circuit Judge:
Before us is a challenge to a decision of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") reversing its previous decision that the Pacific walrus qualified for listing as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 ("ESA"). We find that the Service did not sufficiently explain why it changed its prior position. We therefore reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Service.
] The ESA is "the most comprehensive legislation for the preservation of endangered species ever enacted by any nation." Tenn. Valley Auth. v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 180, 98 S. Ct. 2279, 57 L. Ed. 2d 117 (1978). The Act directs the Secretary of the Interior to protect any "threatened" or "endangered" species. 16 U.S.C. § 1533. A species is endangered if it is "in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range," and threatened if it is "likely [**4] to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range." 16 U.S.C. § 1532(6), (20). The Service interprets "foreseeable future" to mean the period through which it can reliably determine the threats to a species and the likely consequences. U.S. Dep't of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor, Memorandum on the Meaning of "Foreseeable Future" in Section 3(20) of the Endangered Species Act, No. M-37021, at 13 (Jan. 16, 2009).
] The Secretary must maintain a list of species that qualify for protection. 16 U.S.C. § 1533(c). A species qualifies if it is threatened or endangered by: "(A) the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence." Id. § 1533(a)(1). The Secretary must make listing determinations "solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available," and "after conducting a review [*1064] of the status of the species." Id. § 1533(b)(1)(A).
] Any "interested person" may petition the Secretary to list a species. Id. § 1533(b)(3)(A). Upon receiving a petition, the [**5] Secretary must determine whether it presents sufficient information to suggest that listing may be warranted. Id. If so, the Secretary must review the species' status and issue a "12-month finding" that listing is either (1) warranted, (2) not warranted, or (3) warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions. Id. § 1533(b)(3)(B). Species in the third category become listing candidates, and their status is reviewed annually pending a final "warranted" or "not warranted" finding. Id. § 1533(b)(3)(C)(i). The Secretary has delegated authority to administer the Act with respect to certain species, including the Pacific walrus, to the Service. See 50 C.F.R. § 402.01(b).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
998 F.3d 1061 *; 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 16565 **; 51 ELR 20103
CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. DEB HAALAND, in her official capacity as Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior; MARTHA WILLIAMS, in her official capacity as Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, Defendants-Appellees.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Alaska. D.C. No. 3:18-cv-00064-SLG. Sharon L. Gleason, District Judge, Presiding.
Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165439, 2019 WL 4725124 (D. Alaska, Sept. 26, 2019)
Disposition: REVERSED and REMANDED.
walrus, species, walruses, listing, habitat, predict, sea-ice, sea ice, stressors, haulouts, change in position, foreseeable future, reasons, harvests, coastal, adapt, team, climate, effects, mortalities, endangered, reliably, prey, magnitude, changes, hunting, threats, new policy, scientific, briefing
Environmental Law, Natural Resources & Public Lands, Endangered Species Act, Species Lists, Critical Habitats, Federal Agencies, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Arbitrary & Capricious Standard of Review, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, De Novo Standard of Review, Agency Adjudication, Review of Initial Decisions, Appeals, Questions of Fact & Law