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Defenders of Wildlife v. United States Department of the Interior

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20124
Nos. 18-2090, (4th Cir., 07/26/2019)

The Fourth Circuit vacated a biological opinion and incidental take statement issued by FWS in connection with a proposed natural gas pipeline that would run from West Virginia to North Carolina. Environmental groups argued that FWS improperly determined that construction of the pipeline would not jeopardize the rusty patched bumble bee and the clubshell. The court found the agency acted arbitrarily by not basing its determination of the likely impacts of the pipeline on the two species on the best available information and by ignoring evidence that the agency itself had developed. The groups also challenged the validity of the take limits imposed for the Indiana bat and Madison Cave isopod. The court found the agency failed to establish clear standards for determining when the level of anticipated take had been exceeded, and thus failed to create enforceable take limits for both species. It therefore vacated the opinion and statement, and remanded to the agency.