Facilitate Conservation

Others to Improve the Application of the Endangered Species Act, Reduce Unnecessary Burdens on the Energy Industry, and Facilitate Conservation Stewardship A number of groups, most prominently the Western Governors’ Association, have worked to evaluate and develop recommendations to improve the application of the ESA. For example, the Western Governors’ Association developed the Western Governors’ Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative (Initiative), which conducts broad-based stakeholder discussions focused on issues such as identifying means of incentivizing voluntary conservation, elevating the role of states in species conservation, and improving the efficacy of the ESA. Interior intends to build on these efforts to improve the application of the ESA in a manner that ensures conservation stewardship, while reducing unneeded burdens on the public, including the energy industry. v. Re-Evaluate Whether the MBTA Imposes Incidental Take Liability and Clarify Regulatory Authorities. Federal Courts of Appeals have split on whether the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) imposes criminal liability on companies and individuals for the inadvertent death of migratory birds resulting from industrial activities. Three circuits – the fifth, eighth, and ninth – have held that it does not, limiting taking liability to deliberate acts done directly and intentionally to migratory birds. Two circuits – the second and tenth – have held that 33 it does. On January 10, 2017, the Office of the Solicitor issued an opinion regarding the issue, which was subsequently suspended pending further review of the opinion and the underlying regulations and decisions. This review is currently ongoing, and may serve as the basis for the development of new internal guidance or regulations that provide clarity to this longstanding issue. vi. Evaluate the Merits of a General Permit for Incidental Take Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act The FWS intends to evaluate the merits of a general permit for incidental take under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Action Act (BGEPA). When the bald eagle was delisted under the ESA, FWS issued a rule establishing a permit program for incidental take under BGEPA. On December 16, 2016, FWS adopted a final rule intended to address some of industry’s concerns regarding the BGEPA incidental take permit process (81 FR 91494). One measure strongly supported by industry, a general permit for activities that constitute a low risk of taking eagles, was not considered as part of this rulemaking process, though FWS did accept comments on the subject for consideration in a future rulemaking. The FWS is reviewing these comments to determine whether additional regulatory changes would be appropriate to reduce the burden on industry. G. Bureau of Reclamation The BOR is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, operating 53 hydroelectric power facilities, comprising 14,730 megawatts of capacity. Each year, BOR generates over 40 million megawatt-hours of electricity (the equivalent demand of approximately 3.5 million US homes),6 producing over one billion dollars in Federal revenue. In addition to our authorities to develop, operate, and maintain