COURT REJECTS EAGLE-KILLING REGULATION

On behalf of the American Bird Conservancy and a number of individual plaintiffs, we have prevailed in our challenge to a regulation that exponentially increased the length of permits to kill  bald and golden eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (“BGEPA”).   BGEPA makes it unlawful for anyone to kill, injure, or otherwise “take” an eagle without a permit.  Prior to 2013, the maximum period for which such a permit could be granted was five years.  In 2013, however, at the behest of the wind power industry and over the strenuous objections of conservation groups, Indian tribes, the National Park Service, and even the government’s own eagle experts, the Fish and Wildlife Service increased the permit period to thirty years.  In doing so, the Service failed to even analyze the impacts of this major rule change pursuant to the National Environmental Policy.  In a ruling issued on August 11, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that the government violated NEPA and invalidated the regulation on that basis.  A copy of the ruling can be found here.