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Save Our Cabinets v. FWS

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20074
Nos. CV 15-69-M, (D. Mont., 05/30/2017) (Molloy, J.)

A district court held that the approval of a mining project in Montana violated the ESA. A mining company submitted a plan to the Forest Service and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to extract copper and silver from an ore vein that ran beneath federal land. On March 31, 2014, FWS issued its biological opinions for the project, finding that it is not likely to jeopardize grizzly bears or bull trout and not likely to destroy or adversely modify bull trout critical habitat. Plaintiffs argued that FWS violated the ESA with these conclusions, and that the Forest Service violated the Act when it relied on flawed biological opinions. The court held that the Agencies' decisions violate the ESA, as the projected mitigation projections of grizzly bear human-caused mortalities were roughly the same as if the measures were not at all in place. Further, because the FWS biological opinion's no-jeopardy conclusions as to bull trout and grizzly bears were flawed, the Forest Service's reliance on them was arbitrary and capricious.