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Idaho Farm Bureau Federation v. Babbitt

58 F.3d 1392 (1995)

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Idaho Farm Bureau Federation v. Babbitt

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

58 F.3d 1392 (1995)

Facts

The Bruneau Hot Springs Snail is a tiny species discovered in two hot springs along the Bruneau River in the 1950s. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed listing the snail as endangered in 1985, claiming groundwater pumping had reduced the hot springs’ flow, all but eliminating the snail’s habitat. The FWS extended the comment period several times because of disagreement over data on the snail. Idaho senators asked the FWS to delay the listing until the FWS confirmed what was reducing flows, and Congress provided $400,000 to fund studies. A university study found 126 previously undiscovered snail colonies in springs along the same river. However, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the same aquifer supplied all the springs, so depleting it posed the same threat to the whole species. The USGS conducted a second study to determine why the springs’ flows had declined and gave the FWS a provisional draft without releasing it to the public. In 1992, the Idaho Conservation League and Committee for Idaho’s High Desert (ICL/CIHD) sued the FWS to compel a final ruling. The FWS set another public comment period, but the published notice did not cite the USGS study. The FWS finally listed the snail as endangered based on the USGS data and report seven years after proposing the listing. The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation (plaintiff) sued Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and several FWS officials (defendants), claiming the FWS had not complied with required deadlines or procedure. ICL/CIHD intervened in the lawsuit. The district court set aside the FWS final rule listing the snail as endangered, and ICL/CIHD appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tang, J.)

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