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Weyerhaeuser Co. v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service

139 S. Ct. 361 (2018)

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Weyerhaeuser Co. v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service

United States Supreme Court

139 S. Ct. 361 (2018)

Facts

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) directed the Secretary of the Interior (the secretary) to designate the critical habitat of any species listed as endangered. Section 4(b)(2) of the ESA required the secretary to consider the economic and national security impacts of designating critical habitat, and it permitted the secretary to exclude an area from the critical-habitat designation if the benefits of exclusion outweighed the benefits of designation, unless the exclusion of the area would cause the extinction of the endangered species. After the dusky gopher frog was listed as an endangered species, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (the service) (defendant) proposed to designate 1,544 acres of land in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog. A portion of the designated land, known as Unit 1, was owned by Weyerhaeuser Company and other landowners (the landowners) (plaintiffs). The landowners requested that the service exclude Unit 1 from the critical-habitat designation. The agency denied the landowners’ request and included Unit 1 in the designated area. The landowners sued the service, all parties filed motions for summary judgment, and the district court granted the agency’s motion. The intermediate appellate court affirmed and held that the agency’s designation of the land as critical habitat was not reviewable. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Roberts, C.J.)

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