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The Administrative Procedure Act requires an agency to publish a general notice of proposed rule-making in the Federal Register, give interested persons an opportunity to participate in the rule making through submission of written data, views, or arguments with or without opportunity for oral presentation, and, after consideration of the relevant matter presented, incorporate in the rules adopted a concise general statement of their basis and purpose.
The Bruneau Hot Springs Snail was a rare snail species existed in southwest Idaho. A proposal by the Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C.S. § 1533, was published to list the snail as an endangered species. Various affected parties brought issue regarding the snails and, ultimately, the lower court set aside a final rule listing a snail as an endangered species. Appellant intervenor environmental group had become involved in the issue and the appeal.
Did the Secretary of the Interior, acting through FWS, commit procedural errors that require setting aside the rule listing the Springs Snail as an endangered species?
The court first determined that appellant was properly granted intervention, as a public interest group was entitled as a matter of right to intervene in an action challenging the legality of a measure it has supported. However, the court held that a report regarding the snails should have been available to the public, but was not. Failure to provide the public with an opportunity to review the report constituted a significant procedural error. The court observed the concern regarding the potential extinction of the snails and noted that numerous resources were channeled to this issue. The court vacated the judgment in that it felt the judgment was premature due to the insufficient review of the report on the issue. The case was remanded so that the interested parties could more fully comment on the issue and there could be a more informed decision.