Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. USFWS

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 09-17-2015
  • Case #: 12-17530
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Senior District Judge Pratt for the Court; Circuit Judges Schroeder and Callahan
  • Full Text Opinion

Agency actions, even those made pursuant to the Environmental Species Act, must be upheld unless the agency’s action is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or inconsistent with the law.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) entered into a memorandum of agreement with various entities that were bound to a groundwater pump test by a Nevada State Order. In anticipation of the pump test’s affect on an endangered species, the Moapa dace, the FWS and the entities forged an agreement that established conservation methods to be implemented. The FWS conducted a consultation pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), and determined in a Biological Opinion that the groundwater test would not threaten the Moapa dace. The Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”) subsequently challenged the opinion on several grounds and the district court granted summary judgment for the FWS. This appeal rose from the granting of the FWS’s summary judgment. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit explained that the Biological Opinion issued by the FWS was not arbitrary and capricious, affirming the grant of summary judgment to the FWS. The panel found that the FWS’s opinion was not based on the use of improper factors, nor was there an issue with the scientific evidence that was relied on. The panel ultimately found that the decisions made by the FWS were rational, ergo not arbitrary or capricious, and that the district court properly deferred to the decisions of the FWS. The panel disagreed with CBD, arguing that he FWS’s opinion violated the Endangered Species Act and was arbitrary and capricious. AFFIRMED.

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