Public decisions and planning processes often require extensive involvement by interested parties and the expertise to decipher mountains of technical information. CSE’s environmental law, economics, and environmental policy fellows help organizations be effective in administrative processes that are often exceedingly complex. We prepare administrative level comments and appeals on both a programmatic and site specific basis, and help organizations develop systems to monitor upcoming projects.
Some recent examples of our administrative process support work include:
CSE and Redefining Progress Oppose Unsustainable Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico
CSE and its partner Redefining Progress submitted comments in opposition of a major expansion of unsustainable aquaculture operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The federal government and states are now considering opening up the entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to aquaculture, or fish farming. The Gulf of Mexico and California are among the first regions targeted. Last fall, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DPEIS). While there are many types of low-impact aquaculture operations, the operations contemplated by the DPEIS include high trophic level carnivorous species that consume many times their weight in feed taken from wild fish stocks, pose additional risks to wild stocks through genetic contamination and disease, generate significant water pollution, and adversely affect a wide range of ecosystem services provided by healthy marine habitats. Read:
Victory for Outstanding Waters – New Mexico accepts outstanding national resource water petition
On November 30, 2010, the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission made an historic decision to protect headwater streams on wild national forests throughout the state in response to a petition filed by WildEarth Guardians. Thanks to its decision, over 700 miles of 199 perennial rivers and streams, 29 lakes, and approximately 6,000 acres of wetlands are now "Outstanding Waters" under the Clean Water Act, affecting nearly 1.4 million acres of land. The waters protected include perennial streams within 12 of New Mexico’s national forest wilderness areas, ensuring the state's supply of water remains pristine. CSE prepared technical testimony in support of the petition, concentrating on the important ecosystem service values that would be protected by the ONRW designation. Read:
Izembek Road Project
Congressional legislation passed in 2009, P.L. 111-11, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act Legislation, directed the FWS to analyze a proposal for a new road through the heart of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and for the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether or not the proposed road is in the “public interest.” In order to fulfill the terms of the legislation, a proper benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is necessary, as it is crucial for determining whether or not the proposed action is in the public interest and represents a good balance between competing resource values (i.e. benefits exceed costs), creates demonstrable rather than speculative socio-economic benefits, and rests on a solid economic foundation.
CSE and The Wilderness Society have partnered to monitor the environmental impact statement process as it evolves and have provided three sets of comments thus far including comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released in the spring of 2012. In our DEIS comments, we conclude that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) failure to conduct and incorporate a BCA into the DEIS has led the agency to erroneously conclude that the project is beneficial from an economic standpoint. A cursory examination of benefits and costs indicate that costs are likely to exceed benefits by a huge margin – a factor of 7 in the most optimistic scenario, a factor of 13 more likely. Read:
Economic and Community Benefits of Protecting New Mexico's Inventoried Roadless Areas
CSE estimates that New Mexico's inventoried roadless areas on national forest lands generate tens of millions of dollars in economic benefits each year in the form of carbon sequestration, water filtration, backcountry recreation, game and non-game wildlife habitat, and scenery. We also found that counties with significant concentrations of roadless areas outperformed counties without by an average of 1.28% across four key economic performance measures. The study was prepared in support of Governor Bill Richardson's successful petition to the Department of Agriculture for protection of roadless lands throughout New Mexico. Prepared for Forest Guardians, Santa Fe. Read:
American Bird Conservancy and Forest Conservation Council vs. Federal Communications Commission, Docket # 05-1112, D.C. District Court of Appeals
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to proceed with a proposed rulemaking to protect migratory birds. This victory comes in response to petitions and lawsuits filed by CSE (formerly Forest Conservation Council), American Bird Conservancy, and Friends of the Earth. Around 50,000,000 birds are killed by communication towers in the U.S. each year. If passed, the FCC rulemaking will mandate measures be taken by tower owners proven to help prevent these bird deaths at nearly 90,000 towers. The notice of this proposed rulemaking was issued on November 7, 2006 and has yet to be finalized. Read: