A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.
REGULATORY: CFTC, EPA, FWS, FDA, NOAA
COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION
Notice announcing the renewal of the Technology Advisory Committee. Info here.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Notice that EPA renewed the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee for an additional two-year period. Info here.
Notice announcing that the EPA is proposing to remove twelve chemicals from the current list of inert ingredients approved for use in pesticide products because these inert ingredients have been identified as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and they are no longer used in any registered pesticide product. Info here.
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
Notice announcing that FWS has received an application from CG Citrus, LLC for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act to take the federally listed sand skink and blue-tailed mole skink incidental to the construction of a residential development in Polk County, Florida. Info here.
FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
Notice announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “Prior Notice of Imported Food Questions and Answers; Draft Guidance for Industry (Edition 4).” Info here.
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
Notice that permits, permit amendments, and permit modifications have been issued to certain entities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Info here.
JUDICIAL: Includes NEPA, NFMA
In EARTH ISLAND INSTITUTE v. UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE, No. 2:19-CV01271, 2022 WL 4123991 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 9, 2022), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California considered whether the U.S. Forest Service (“USFS”) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the National Forest Management Act (“NFMA”) in its decision on how to manage forest habitat and how to protect and conserve the black-backed woodpecker and the Pacific marten. Under the NEPA, federal agencies are required to consider every significant environmental impact of a proposed agency action and agencies must provide the public an opportunity for the public to participate and comment on the decision-marking process. The NFMA provides a legal framework for managing natural resources on lands managed by the USFS, and requires the agency to prepare a land a resource management plan for each national forest. In 2004, the USFS adopted the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment to integrate a strategy to reduce wildfires by thinning trees. The plan sets forth guidelines and standards for tree thinning projects while also considering the conservation efforts of species that are dependent on the forest within the project area. USFS established a project to thin excess tress by permitting commercial logging within the forest.
In this lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that USFS failed to evaluate reasonable alternatives to the project, as required by NEPA, such as prescribed fire or precommercial thinning before moving forward with the project. The federal court disagreed with this argument and concluded that the plaintiffs failed to prove that their proposed alternatives are significantly different from the agency’s project because both plans focus on thinning trees. Also, the court explained that the plaintiffs failed to show that their plan would achieve the same result as USFS’s proposed project. Further, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that USFS did not take a hard look at the impacts of the project on identifiable species because the agency properly relied on its experts and reached a permissible conclusion in determining that the project would have no significant impacts on forest-dependent species. Finally, the court held that USFS complied with the NFMA because the project complied with the standards established under the amended forest plan. Accordingly, the court denied plaintiff’s motions for summary judgment and dismissed the case.