ESA Policy News: April 17, 2023
In this issue:
ESA & ESAL Webinar “Protecting Waterways for Healthy Communities and Ecosystems” – Monday, May 8 at 2:00 pm
Join ESAL and ESA to learn how science and policy intersect to protect waterways, hear from local advocates for ecologically sound practices, and discuss the potential impact of an ongoing Supreme Court Case.
President Joe Biden vetoes measure to nullify the administration’s most recent Clean Water Act rule.
Top environmental official at the State Department to depart to lead the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Climate lawsuit filed by Hawai’i teens advances in state courts.
New Mexico governor signed bill to limit prescribed fires.
IPBES launches call for Indigenous and local knowledge.
National Academies to hold webinar series titled “Paving the Way for Continental Scale Biology: Connecting Research Across Scales” starting April 24-25.
ESA & ESAL Webinar “Protecting Waterways for Healthy Communities and Ecosystems” – Monday, May 8 at 2:00 pm
Monday May 8
2:00 – 3:00 pm ET
RSVP here to receive instructions to join
Join Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally and the Ecological Society of America to learn how science and policy intersect to protect waterways, hear from local advocates for ecologically sound practices, and discuss the potential impact of an ongoing Supreme Court Case.
Rain fills our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, but how does it get there? Wetlands are vital to managing how water flows after storm events to protect human environments from floods and natural environments from soil erosion and habitat destruction. Sound ecological science data clearly shows the vital role of wetlands for nature and to also protect human health and property. Planning requires the expertise of ecologists, landscape architects, environmental planners, and environmental engineers, and can be incentivized by local regulations.
State and local waterway protections benefit communities by improving flood control, replenishing groundwater reserves, protecting biodiverse habitats, and supporting the maintenance of thriving outdoor spaces that everyone can enjoy. The Clean Water Act is a federal law that gives authority to states to protect the nation’s waters. An ongoing Supreme Court case (Sackett vs. EPA) has the potential to shape the scope of this law. In this panel, co-hosted by Engineers and Scientists Acting Locally and the Ecological Society of America, we will hear from legal experts and implementers who will discuss the role of policy, both federal and local, in effective ecosystem management.
Erika Harris- Senior Planner, Puget Sound Regional Council
Royal C. Gardner, JD– Professor of Law and Co-Director, Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, Stetson University College of Law.
Clean Water Act: President Joe Biden vetoed a Congressional Review Act measure that would have nullified the administration’s most recent Clean Water Act rule, which seeks to define the “Water of the U.S.” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) called on additional Democrats to support a veto override – only nine Democrats supported the measure in the House and four Democrats and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) supported the measure in the Senate. It is unlikely the House or the Senate will have the votes to overturn the veto.
The definition in the rule includes ‘navigable waters’, wetlands and other bodies of water adjacent to them if they are connected with ‘relatively permanent’ waters. Waterways are only included if they will ‘virtually always significantly affect’ traditional navigable waters or if waters they have a ‘significant nexus’ to larger downstream waters. The Biden administration said that rule aims to create a ‘durable’ definition of the Waters of the U.S. using the best available science after the rules finalized by the Obama and Trump administrations have been challenged in the courts.
Shortly after Biden’s veto, a federal judge in North Dakota halted the implementation of Biden’s new Clean Water Act rule in 24 states, writing that a pending Supreme Court case is likely to change the authority of the federal government under the Clean Water Act. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the Sackett v. EPA case by early summer 2023. In this case, Chantell and Michael Sackett sought a CWA Section 404 permit to develop wetlands on their Idaho property that was denied. The Sacketts are represented by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation and backed by business and agricultural groups. This ruling leaves the US under a split regulatory regime, with 24 states subject to the Biden Clean Water Act rule and 26 states following previous Clean Water Act rules after lawsuits challenging Biden’s rule.
Forests: Reps. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA) and John Sarbanes (D-MD) and 28 other lawmakers sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, urging their agencies to undertake a formal rulemaking to protect mature and old-growth forests. The letter citing President Joe Biden’s Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies executive order and the benefits of old-growth forest for carbon sequestration, water quality and more.
NOAA: The House Science Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, April 18, to consider Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK)’s draft legislation to take the National Oceanic Administration out of the Department of Commerce and make NOAA into an independent agency. The hearing witnesses are three former NOAA administrators.
- Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution nullifying a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rule listing the Northern Long-eared Bat as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. Previously, the bat species was listed as a threatened species. USFWS finalized the rule listing the species as an endangered species in late November 2022 and then delayed the rules’ effective date to March 31, 2023 after political pushback. Mullin and Stauber said that the rule should not be finalized due to adverse economic impacts and the impacts of the rule on building infrastructure.
State Department: Monica Medina, the assistant secretary of oceans and international and scientific affairs will leave the State Department to lead the Wildlife Conservation Society at the end of April. Medina is the top environmental official in the State Department. She was named the first Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources ahead of the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties in December 2022 in Montreal and has also represented the United States in global plastics and international seabed negotiations.
- US emissions up 6 percent in 2021 amid pandemic recovery: EPA – The Hill
- P.A. to Tighten Limits on Mercury and Other Pollutants From Power Plants – The New York Times
- Logging Plan on Yellowstone’s Border Shows Limits of Biden Greenhouse Gas Policy – Inside Climate News
- Federal government considers major water cuts to protect Colorado River – Los Angeles Times
- Southwest Tribes Push For New National Monument Near Grand Canyon – Huffington Post
- Biden releases $1B for urban trees – E&E News
- Hawaiʻi teens lead second youth climate change trial in US history – Hawai’i Public Radio
- Environmental groups sue EPA over water pollution standards – The Texas Tribune
- Environmental groups sue to stop Ohio from leasing state parks for oil and gas drilling – Columbus Dispatch
- New Mexico governor signs bill to limit prescribed fires – Associated Press
- N.Y. Governor Walks Back Push to ‘Weaken’ Climate Law After Uproar – The New York Times
- Wisconsin DNR releases 3,500 public comments on wolf plan – Associated Press
- New York City appointed a rat czar. Her job will be a tall ask – National Public Radio
IPBES: The international body is launching a “call for contributions on Indigenous and local knowledge”, to invite Indigenous Peoples and local communities from all over the world to support the three ongoing IPBES assessments:
- Thematic assessment of the interlinkages among biodiversity, water, food and health (nexus assessment) (2021-2024, https://www.ipbes.net/nexus).
- Thematic assessment of the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, determinants of transformative change and options for achieving the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity (transformative change assessment) (2021-2024, https://www.ipbes.net/transformative-change).
- A methodological assessment of the impact and dependence of business on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people (business and biodiversity assessment) (2023-2025, https://www.ipbes.net/business-impact).
The IPBES Secretariat is hoping to receive materials that express community-based knowledge, practices, values, needs, and/or experiences related to one or more of the assessments. Materials can be submitted in national or local languages. IPBES also welcomes recommendations of individuals, communities, organizations and networks that could engage in the development of the assessments as reviewers or contributing authors. To read more about the call for contributions and to participate, follow this link. The deadline for the call is May 8, 2023.
- Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rises in March – Reuters
- The World Bank Is Getting a New Chief. Will He Pivot Toward Climate Action? – The New York Times
- Analysis: Race to the bottom for deep-sea minerals centers on tiny Nauru – Reuters
NASEM: A new initiative within the National Academies, Climate Crossroads will serve as a nexus point within the National Academies, allowing the organization to chart new pathways for sustained national and global leadership over the coming decades. Climate Crossroads will leverage the disciplinary breadth of the organization, provide space to be responsive as new challenges arise and expand the impact of the Academies’ work to a more diverse range of stakeholders and decision-makers including by developing new ways to work with underrepresented communities. The National Academies are establishing a new advisory committee to steer its work and seeking a broad range of experts to participate. Nominations are due by May 1, 2023, nominate an expert here.
NASEM: The Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology will hold a webinar series titled “Paving the Way for Continental Scale Biology: Connecting Research Across Scales” starting April 24-25. This webinar will include identifying and discussing practices that have been used successfully to translate knowledge from small-scale biological research to regional- and continental-scale, challenges that prevent uptake of these practices and specific research questions that could serve as pilots for implementing research projects that integrate one or more successful practices. Speakers will highlight frontier research efforts demonstrating continental-scale biology. This event will provide a platform for creative collaboration among experts from multiple fields, organizations and sectors. RSVP here.
Research!America: Today, Monday, April 17th at 1:00 p.m, Research!America will host an alliance conversation with Dr. Regina Barzilay, an expert in artificial intelligence, both within the biomedical sphere and outside of it. Dr. Barzilay will answer a few “AI for Beginners” questions and then share her own story – how confronting breast cancer convinced her AI can dramatically improve the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer. RSVP here.
NASEM: The Committee on Understanding and Addressing Misinformation about Science is hosting a one-day hybrid workshop on April 19, 2023. The workshop will bring together researchers, practitioners, philanthropists, and policymakers among others, for a series of discussions on the topic of science misinformation. Presentations and discussions will address the nature, mechanisms, and differential impacts of misinformation about science as well as explore select interventions to address misinformation and their intended outcomes. Each discussion will include a time of Q&A with the committee and audience. RSVP here.
ESA Correspondence to Policymakers
- ESA – ESA Response to the Request for Information “Framing to the National Nature Assessment” (March 30, 2023)
- AFRI Coalition – FY 2024 Appropriations Letter (March 24, 2023)
- Friends of ARS – FY 2024 Appropriations Letter (March 17, 2023)
- CNSF – FY2024 letters to the House and Senate (March 15, 2023)
- ESC – FY 2024 Office of Science Statement (March 14, 2023)
- ESA – ESA Urges All Nations to Take Climate Action at COP27 (Nov. 8, 2022)
- CNSF – FY 2024 Letter to White House OMB and OSTP (Oct. 27, 2022)
- CNSF – FY 2023 Conference Committee Appropriations Letter (Oct. 27, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter of Support for Agricultural Research Appropriations (Oct. 17, 2022)
- ESC – Letter of Support for the DOE Foundation for FY 2024 (Sept. 20, 2022)
- ESC – FY 2024 Funding Request (Aug. 11, 2022)
- CNSF – Statement on Passage of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (Aug. 2, 2022)
View more letters and testimony from ESA here.
Upcoming Public Meetings:
- BLM – Western Montana Resource Advisory Council Meeting (April 26)
- BLM – Public Meetings for the San Juan Islands National Monument Advisory Committee, Washington (May 4)
- BLM – Public Meetings for the John Day-Snake Resource Advisory Council, Oregon (May 10)
- BLM – Utah Resource Advisory Council Meetings (May 17)
- BLM – Southwest District Colorado Resource Advisory Council Sheep Grazing Subcommittee Meetings (May 9)
- BLM – Northern California District Resource Advisory Council Meetings (April 26-27)
- Department of Energy – Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (April 20-21)
- Energy Department – Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (April 25)
- EPA – Good Neighbor Environmental Board (April 27)
- Forest Service – Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board (April 19)
- NOAA NMFS – South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Public Meetings (April 18)
- NOAA NMFS – Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Public Meeting (April 27)
- NOAA NMFS – Spring Meeting of the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Section to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (April 27-28)
- NOAA NMFS – Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Meeting of the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel; Advisory Panel Nominations (May 9-11)
- NOAA – Public Meeting of the Ocean Exploration Advisory Board (April 25-26)
- NOAA – Public Meetings of the Science Advisory Board (April 26-27)
- NOAA – Notice of Intent To Conduct Scoping and To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Atchafalaya National Estuarine Research Reserve (April 20, 25)
- NOAA – The 46th Meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (April 21)
- NOAA – Evaluation of Guam Coastal Management Program; Notice of Public Meeting; Request for Comments (May 10)
- NPS – Gateway National Recreation Area Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee Notice of Public Meeting (April 27)
- NRCS USDA – Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee Meeting (April 18)
- State Department – Listening Session on Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty Regime (April 19)
Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:
- Bureau of Land Management – Notice of Intent To Amend the Resource Management Plan for the Campbell Tract Special Recreation Management Area, Anchorage, Alaska, and Prepare an Associated Environmental Assessment. The BLM requests that the public submit comments concerning the scope of the analysis, potential alternatives, and identification of relevant information and studies by April 21, 2023.
- Bureau of Land Management – Call for Nominations to the Missouri Basin and Western Montana Resource Advisory Councils. All nominations must be received no later than April 28, 2023.
- Department of the Interior – Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group Draft Restoration Plan 3 and Environmental Assessment: Birds. The Open Ocean TIG will consider public comments on the Draft RP/EA received on or before April 28, 2023.
- EPA – FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel; Examination of Microcosm/Mesocosm Studies for Evaluating the Effects of Atrazine on Aquatic Plant Communities; Request for Nominations of Ad Hoc Expert Reviewers and Notice of Public Meeting. The deadline for submitting all nominations to EPA is April 24, 2023.
- EPA – Clean Air Act Advisory Committee Request for Nominations. Application due by April 30, 2023.
- EPA – Stakeholder Engagement Opportunities on Inflation Reduction Act Programs To Reduce Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated With Construction Materials and Products. Comments must be received on or before May 1, 2023.
- EPA – Cumulative Risk Assessment; Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals Virtual Public Meeting; Notice of Availability and Request for Comment. The deadline for providing comments for distribution to the SACC before the meeting is April 28, 2023. The deadline for registering to be listed on the meeting agenda to make oral comments during the virtual meeting is May 1, 2023.
- Forest Service & FWS – Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska-2024-25 and 2025-26 Subsistence Taking of Wildlife Regulations Comments should be submitted to the Service Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (see “Information Collection” section below under by April 28, 2023.
- FWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of the Gray Wolf in Colorado. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal must be received by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on the closing date.
- FWS – Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council; Request for Nominations. Nominations for the Council must be submitted by April 24, 2023.
- FWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; California Spotted Owl; Endangered Status for the Coastal-Southern California Distinct Population Segment and Threatened Status With Section 4(d) Rule for the Sierra Nevada Distinct Population Segment. The FWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before April 24, 2023.
- FWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink and Blue-Tailed Mole Skink; Polk County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. The FWS must receive written comments on or before April 28, 2023.
- FWS – Marine Mammal Protection Act; Draft Stock Assessment Reports for the Pacific Walrus Stock and Three Northern Sea Otter Stocks in Alaska. The service must receive comments by May 8, 2023.
- FWS – Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council; Call for Nominations. Email submissions must be received by May 11, 2023.
- NASA – Request for Information: Draft Federal Strategy To Advance an Integrated U.S. Greenhouse Gas Monitoring and Information System; Number NNH23ZDA009L. Submit comments by April 19, 2023.
- Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA – Request for Nominations to the Task Force on Agricultural Air Quality Research. The Secretary of Agriculture will consider nominations that are postmarked by May 8, 2023.
- NOAA – Hydrographic Services Review Panel. Nominations are due by April 28, 2023.
- NOAA NMFS – Proposed Rule To List the Sunflower Sea Star as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act. Comments on the proposed rule to must be received by May 15, 2023.
- NOAA – Notice of Intent To Conduct Scoping in Preparation of the National Coral Reef Resilience Strategy for the Coral Reef Conservation Program. NOAA will consider all relevant written comments received by May 8, 2023.
- NPS – Request for Nominations for the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Advisory Commission. Written nominations must be received by April 28, 2023.
Visit this page on ESA’s website for updates on opportunities from the Federal Register, including upcoming meetings and regulations open for public comment.