Judicial:

WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT, WILDEARTH GUARDIANS, CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, & PREDATOR DEFENSE Plaintiffs, v. USDA APHIS WILDLIFE SERVICES Defendant., No. 1:17-CV-206-BLW, 2018 WL 6251358 (D. Idaho Nov. 29, 2018); For years, Wildlife Services has responded to requests from Idaho livestock producers to kill or remove predators like coyotes that threaten their herds. When the agency decided to expand its operations to kill or remove predators to game animals and protected species, it prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and circulated it to various agencies and the public. That draft prompted numerous critical comments, especially from other agencies with long experience and expertise in managing game animals and protected species: The Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, among others.Instead of studying these concerns in greater depth in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Wildlife Services largely rejected these criticisms, finding that they were invalid for various reasons. Based on that analysis, Wildlife Services issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and decided to implement the Preferred Alternative contained in the EA. The Preferred Alternative would have authorized Wildlife Services to provide additional assistance in efforts to reduce predation on wildlife species identified as needing protection by the IDFG, USFWS and other natural resource management agencies. Wildlife species which could potentially be protected under this alternative if a need is identified by the applicable regulatory agency include the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) (hereafter referred to as sage-grouse), mule deer and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus and 0. virginianus, respectively), bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana), northern and southern Idaho ground squirrels (Spermophilus brunneus burnneus, and S. b. endemicus, respectively) and waterfowl (various species).AR-37624. To block implementation of the Preferred Alternative, plaintiffs – referred to collectively as WWP in this decision – filed this lawsuit, asking the Court to find, among other things, that Wildlife Services violated NEPA by failing to prepare an EIS. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and in a decision issued June 23, 2018, the Court granted WWP’s motion and denied the motion filed by the Wildlife Service. See Memorandum Decision (Dkt. No. 33).

In that decision, the Court explained that under NEPA, an agency may use a convincing and objective analysis to reject criticisms and refuse to prepare a full EIS. But that was not done here. While Wildlife Services responded in detail to the criticisms, their reasons for rejecting them were not convincing and objective; the agency failed to take the required “hard look” at the concerns raised by the other agencies. Moreover, the agency predicted that they would be expanding operations into wilderness areas, another factor that persuaded the Court to require an EIS. Consequently, the Court held that Wildlife Services acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in deciding not to prepare an EIS.
The parties asked the Court for some time to negotiate an agreement on the specific remedies to be imposed. When those negotiations failed, WWP filed the motion for remedies now before the Court.  The motion for remedies was granted in part and denied in part.
REGULATORY:

Notice of availability; request for comments; The Department of Labor (DOL) is submitting the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) sponsored information collection request (ICR) titled, “Application for a Farm Labor Contractor or Farm Labor Contractor Employee Certificate of Registration  to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval for continued use, without change, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA). Public comments on the ICR are invited. Info HERE

Notice of availability; request for comments.The Department of Labor (DOL or Department) is submitting the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) sponsored information collection request (ICR) titled, “H-2A Sheepherder Recordkeeping Requirement,” to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval for continued use, without change, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995. Public comments on the ICR are invited. Info HERE

Notice: Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA; In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. The proposed information collection is a request for a revision of a currently approved collection of information relating to the reporting burden associated with completing and submitting form FNS-339, the Federal-State Supplemental Nutrition Programs Agreement for the administration of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP); and/or the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). Info HERE

Proposed collection; comments requested. Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Rural Business-Cooperative Service’s intention to request an extension for a currently approved information collection in support of the program for the Agriculture Innovation Demonstration Center. Info HERE

Legislative:

S. 3681: A bill to amend the Animal Health Protection Act to establish an Animal Disease and Disaster Prevention, Surveillance, and Rapid Response Program and a National Livestock Vaccine Bank, and for other purposes. Info HERE

H.R. 7200: To extend indemnity for wildfires and hurricanes, and for other purposes. Info HERE