A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.

                                                                                                                                               

JUDICIAL: Includes NEPA, preliminary injunction

In Western Watersheds Project v. Schneider, No. 1:16-CV-83-BLW (D. Idaho Oct. 16, 2019), the federal court granted the plaintiffs’ request for preliminary injunction, preventing the 2019 BLM Sage-Grouse Plan Amendments from being implemented. This litigation was originally brought by four environmental groups challenging several Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) issued in 2015 covering land in ten different Western states. The plaintiffs argued that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) minimized harm to the endangered sage grouse by failing to conduct a range-wide evaluation of the species. As litigation over the 2015 EIS’s was underway, the BLM issued amendments to the Sage Grouse Plans (known as the 2019 Plan Amendments) in response to a direction from the Secretary of the Interior to relax restrictions on oil and gas development in sage grouse habitat. The plaintiffs have altered their original complaint to challenge the BLM’s 2019 Amendments. While the litigation is pending, the plaintiffs have requested that the court issue an injunction preventing the 2019 Plan Amendments from going into effect. The court granted the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction, finding that the plaintiffs were (1) likely to succeed on their claims that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); (2) likely to suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief; and (3) that the balance of hardships tipped towards the plaintiffs.

                                                                                                                                               

REGULATORY: Includes FS, NOAA

FOREST SERVICE

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which prohibits tree harvest and road construction/reconstruction within inventoried roadless areas. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

Temporary Rule closing the Atlantic bluefin tuna general category fishery for the October through November subquota period until the General category reopens on December 1, 2019, to prevent overharvesting. Info here.

Temporary Rule prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels using pot gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska to prevent exceeding the 2019 Pacific cod total allowable catch. Info here.

Proposed Rule implementing management measures to modify the commercial fishing seasons, trip limits, and minimum size limits for selected snapper-grouper species in the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone. Info here.