Public Comment Period on Proposed Listing of Northern Long-Eared Bat Extended

In 2011, the Department of Interior entered into a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians that covered 779 species in 85 lawsuits and legal actions.  The settlement required the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take action on pending petitions for 757 species over a seven year period.  On October 2, 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service published in the Federal Register a proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered throughout its range under the Endangered Species Act.

Unlike many species classified as endangered, the northern long-eared bat is found throughout a large portion of the United States – in 39 states.  Its habitat is found from Maine to North Carolina on the east coast.  That habitat extends westward to eastern Oklahoma and north through the Dakotas, extending as far as eastern Montana and Wyoming.  It is a medium-sized bat ranging from 3 to 3.7 inches with a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches and, as its name suggests, it has long ears.  During winter months, the bats typically hibernate in caves or mines.  During summer, they typically roost underneath bark, in cavities, or in crevices of trees.

Like other species of bats, the northern long-eared bat population has declined rapidly as a direct result of white-nose syndrome, a disease that causes fungal growth around the muzzles and wings of hibernating bats.  White-nose syndrome was first discovered in New York in 2006 and has spread rapidly in the northeast and is expected to spread further.

By publishing its proposal to list the northern long-eared bat in the Federal Register, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service triggered a 60-day comment period that was scheduled to end on December 2, 2013.  The Service, however, has decided to extend the comment period an additional 30 days, ending January 2, 2014.

Because of the listing of the Indiana bat in 1967 as endangered, industry in eastern states, home to the Indiana bat, may not see much disruption if the northern long-eared bat is listed, as it is expected that the protections would be substantially similar.  The states to the west and north of the Indiana bat range that have northern long-eared bats, however, may face significant requirements to ensure the protection of its habitat.  Those protections are likely to affect oil and gas operations and mining operations.

Comments must be received by January 2, 2014.  They can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.  The link to send a comment or submission may be found by entering Docket No. FWS-R5ES-2011-0024 in the search box and selecting the Proposed Rules link under the Document Type heading.  Comments may also be sent by hard copy, either by U.S. mail or hand delivery.   They should be addressed to:

In 2011, the Department of Interior entered into a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians that covered 779 species in 85 lawsuits and legal actions.  The settlement required the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take action on pending petitions for 757 species over a seven year period.  On October 2, 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service published in the Federal Register a proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered throughout its range under the Endangered Species Act.

Unlike many species classified as endangered, the northern long-eared bat is found throughout a large portion of the United States – in 39 states.  Its habitat is found from Maine to North Carolina on the east coast.  That habitat extends westward to eastern Oklahoma and north through the Dakotas, extending as far as eastern Montana and Wyoming.  It is a medium-sized bat ranging from 3 to 3.7 inches with a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches and, as its name suggests, it has long ears.  During winter months, the bats typically hibernate in caves or mines.  During summer, they typically roost underneath bark, in cavities, or in crevices of trees.

Like other species of bats, the northern long-eared bat population has declined rapidly as a direct result of white-nose syndrome, a disease that causes fungal growth around the muzzles and wings of hibernating bats.  White-nose syndrome was first discovered in New York in 2006 and has spread rapidly in the northeast and is expected to spread further.

By publishing its proposal to list the northern long-eared bat in the Federal Register, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service triggered a 60-day comment period that was scheduled to end on December 2, 2013.  The Service, however, has decided to extend the comment period an additional 30 days, ending January 2, 2014.

Because of the listing of the Indiana bat in 1967 as endangered, industry in eastern states, home to the Indiana bat, may not see much disruption if the northern long-eared bat is listed, as it is expected that the protections would be substantially similar.  The states to the west and north of the Indiana bat range that have northern long-eared bats, however, may face significant requirements to ensure the protection of its habitat.  Those protections are likely to affect oil and gas operations and mining operations.

Comments must be received by January 2, 2014.  They can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.  The link to send a comment or submission may be found by entering Docket No. FWS-R5ES-2011-0024 in the search box and selecting the Proposed Rules link under the Document Type heading.  Comments may also be sent by hard copy, either by U.S. mail or hand delivery.   They should be addressed to:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R5-ES-2011-0024

Division of Policy and Directives Management

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM

Arlington, VA 22203

 

Laura Patterson Hoffman focuses her practice in the areas of environmental and regulatory law, energy, tort and business litigation. Hoffman regularly assists energy producers with compliance issues and litigation relating to the Clean Water Act and other environmental permitting issues. She has practiced in federal and state courts and before the Kentucky Office of Administrative Hearings. Hoffman has also engaged in extended negotiations with the Kentucky Cabinet for Energy and Environmental Protection and various environmentalist groups. She also has experience in groundwater contamination litigation and contractual disputes.
 
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