American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016 - 14

IndustryDigest
USFWS: Revised ESA
Petition Process Adds
State Input, Transparency
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration have
issued final revisions to regulations
governing the petition process under the
Endangered Species Act. USFWS
maintains the revisions improve how
petitioners may request an ESA listing,
delisting or reclassification, and also
describe the process by which
petitioners may request changes to
critical habitat designations, but some
ESA critics argue the adjustments do
not address the law's underlying flaws.
"This announcement is a call for
help from the administration and an
acknowledgement that the ESA is
broken," assesses Representative Rob
Bishop, R-Ut., chairman of the House
Committee on Natural Resources.
"These revisions give the appearance
that state input will improve and that
closed-door settlements no longer will
drive petition and listing decisions.
Unfortunately, serial environmental
litigation will continue to drive ESA
policy, and there is nothing the agencies
can do about it unless we reform the
underlying statute. No matter who wins
the White House in November, the law's
failings necessitate reform."
USFWS says the revised petition
requirements will ensure more complete
and robust petitions, leading to more
effective conservation, greater
involvement by state wildlife agencies,
and a more transparent process. "The
final revisions to the ESA petition
regulations reflect the thoughtful
feedback and concerns of many partners,
while staying true to our goal of
improving both the quality of petitions
and the ESA's effectiveness," says
USFWS Director Dan Ashe. "State
wildlife agencies are critical partners in
conserving wildlife in America, and often
possess the most up-to-date and relevant
information on imperiled species, so
making better use of their expertise
makes good conservation sense."
USWFS mentions a couple
provisions in the final revisions:
* Petitioners will be required to
notify each state wildlife agency in
which the species occurs at least 30
days before submitting the federal
petition to allow states an opportunity to
14 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

submit pertinent information in time to
inform the federal review.
* Each petition may contain only
one species, although it still may address
one or more subspecies or varieties,
which for vertebrate species includes
one or more distinct population segment.
Some anti-development groups have
criticized the new rules, including the
Center for Biological Diversity. CBD
Endangered Species Policy Director
Brett Hartl ripped the revisions as
"premised on right-wing myths, not
facts," and claimed the move would
damage the law in ways that would
require years to repair. ❒

by law firm Locke Lorde's energy
practice that suggests a listing may
impact many activities not identified as
major factors. "The listing could have
significant implications for developers
of both energy and real estate projects,
as well as those in other industries,"
IPAA quotes, adding that the firm warns
many industries may be "at risk of
causing a 'take' and violating the
Endangered Species Act if those
activities take place in or near occupied
RPBB habitat." ❒

USFWS Suggests Bee
Deserves ESA Status

WASHINGTON-The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency is
proposing to review its estimates of
volatile organic compound emissions
from flaring operations at oil and
natural gas sites. The review is part of a
proposed consent decree with
environmental groups in Texas and
Louisiana that sued the agency over its
sampling practices.
The plaintiffs filed a complaint Oct.
6, alleging EPA failed to perform
monitoring required by the Clean Air
Act by not reviewing or revising the
VOC emissions factors from flaring at
natural gas production facilities at least
once every three years. According to
media reports, the environmental groups
claim air samples taken in Houston oil
refineries showed higher levels of VOCs
than reported, prompting them to
question EPA's data.
The notice published in the Oct. 25
Federal Register states the proposed
consent decree addresses a lawsuit in
the U.S. District Court in the District of
Columbia by Air Alliance Houston,
Community In-Power and Development
Association Inc., Louisiana Bucket
Brigade, and Texas Environmental
Justice Advocacy Services.
Under the proposed consent decree,
by June 5, 2017, EPA will review and
either propose revisions to the VOC
emissions factor under the CAA or
propose a determination that revisions are
unnecessary, the agency says. The
consent decree would require EPA to take
final action on revising the national gas
VOC emissions factor by Feb. 5, 2018.
EPA is accepting written comments
on the proposed consent decree through
Nov. 25, the agency says. ❒

WASHINGTON-The U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service has proposed listing
the rusty patched bumblebee (RPBB) as
an endangered species.
According to the Independent
Petroleum Association of America, the
Xerces Society has been pressuring
USFWS to list the bee since 2013,
which includes filing a lawsuit designed
to force a 90-day finding. The proposal
appeared in the Sept. 22 Federal
Register and included a Nov. 21
comments deadline.
In comments it filed in 2015 in
conjunction with the American
Petroleum Institute, IPAA notes that
Xerces asserts the species' range has
shrunk 70-87 percent. According to
USFWS, the RPBB's historical U.S.
range was broadly distributed across the
eastern United States and Upper
Midwest, from Maine south to the
northeast corner of Georgia, reaching
west to the eastern edges of North and
South Dakota. Its range included 28
states and the District of Columbia.
Since 2000, it says, the bee has been
reported in only 12 states: Illinois,
Indiana, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, North
Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.
USFWS mentions a number of
reasons for the RPBB's decline:
* Habitat loss and degradation;
* Intensive farming;
* Pathogens and parasites;
* Pesticides; and
* Global climate change.
IPAA cites a published assessment

EPA Reacts To Lawsuit
With Emissions Review



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016

Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016 - 1
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American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016 - Contents
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