333 F.3d 1109 (10th Cir. 2003), 02-2254, Rio Grande Silvery Minnow v. Keys

Docket Nº:02-2254
Citation:333 F.3d 1109
Party Name:Rio Grande Silvery Minnow v. Keys
Case Date:June 12, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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333 F.3d 1109 (10th Cir. 2003)

RIO GRANDE SILVERY MINNOW, Hybognathus amarus; Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax trailii extimus); Defenders of Wildlife; Forest Guardians; National Audubon Society; New Mexico Audubon Council; Sierra Club; Southwest Environmental Center, Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

John W. KEYS, III, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation; Steve Hanson, Regional Director, Bureau of Reclamation; Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the United States; Joseph Ballard, General, Chief Engineer, Army Corps of Engineers; Raymond Midkiff, Lt. Col., Albuquerque District Engineer; United States Army Corps of Engineers, an agency of the United States; United States of America; Gale Norton, Secretary, Department of Interior; United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Defendants-Appellants,

State of New Mexico; The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District; City of Albuquerque; Rio De Chama Acequia Association, Defendants-Intervenors-Appellants,

Double M. Ranch; City of Santa Fe, Intervenors,

Las Campanas Limited Partnership; Pacific Legal Foundation; San Juan Water Commission; National Water Resources Association; Klamath Water Users Association; City and County of Santa Fe; State of Colorado; State of Idaho; State of Nebraska; State of Oklahoma; State of South Dakota; State of Wyoming; Trout Unlimited; National Wildlife Federation; Desert Fishes Council; New Mexico Council of Churches, Amici Curiae.

Nos. 02-2254, 02-2295, 02-2255, 02-2304, 02-2267.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

June 12, 2003.

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Stephen R. Farris, Assistant Attorney General, State of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM, (Patricia A. Madrid, Attorney General, Tracy M. Hughes, Assistant Attorney General, State of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM; John E. Stroud, Special Assistant Attorney General, Karen L. Fisher, Special Assistant Attorney General, Office of the State Engineer and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Santa Fe, NM; Peggy E. Montãno, Special Assistant Attorney General of Trout, Witwer & Freeman, P.C., Denver, CO; Fred Abramowitz, Special Assistant Attorney General of Abramowitz & Franks, Albuquerque, NM, with him on the briefs) for Defendant-Intervenor-Appellant State of New Mexico.

Lynn H. Slade of Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk, P.A., Albuquerque, NM, (Maria O'Brien of Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk, P.A., Albuquerque, NM, Charles W. Kolberg and Robert M. White, City of Albuquerque, Legal Department, Albuquerque, NM, with him on the briefs) for Defendant-Intervenor-Appellant City of Albuquerque.

Charles T. DuMars, of Law & Resource Planning Associates, P.C., Albuquerque, NM, (Christina Bruff DuMars and David Seeley, of Law & Resource Planning Associates, P.C., Albuquerque, NM, with him on the briefs) for Defendant-Intervenor-Appellant Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

Frank M. Bond of The Simons Firm, LLP, Santa Fe, NM, (Thomas A. Simons, IV, and Faith Kalman Reyes of The Simons Firm, LLP, Santa Fe, NM; Fred J. Waltz, Attorney, Taos, NM, with him on the briefs) for Defendant-Intervenor-Appellant Rio Chama Acequia Association.

Andrew C. Mergen, Attorney, Environment and Natural Resources Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., (Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Susan L. Pacholski, Attorney, Environment and Natural Resources Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., with him on the briefs) for the Defendants-Appellants.

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Alletta Belin, of Belin & Sugarman, Santa Fe, NM, (Steven C. Sugarman of Belin & Sugarman, Santa Fe, NM; Laurence J. Lucas, Attorney, Boise, ID, with her on the brief) for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

James B. Dougherty, Washington, D.C., National Wildlife Federation, Desert Fishes Council, and New Mexico Council of Churches filed an amicus curiae brief for the Plaintiff-Appellees.

Elizabeth Newlin Taylor, Esq., and Jolene L. McCaleb, Esq., of Wolf, Taylor & McCaleb, P.A., Albuquerque, NM, filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of San Juan Water Commission for the Appellants.

Steven L. Hernandez of Hubert & Hernandez, P.A., Las Cruces, NM, filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of National Water Resources Association for the Defendants-Intervenors-Appellants.

Paul S. Simmons of Somach, Simmons, & Dunn, Sacramento, CA, filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Klamath Water Users Association for the Appellants.

M. Reed Hopper and Anne M. Hayes of Pacific Legal Foundation, Sacramento, CA, filed an amicus curiae brief for the Defendants-Intervenors-Appellants.

Bruce Thompson, City Attorney, Robert D. Kidd, Jr., Assistant City Attorney, Santa Fe, NM; Galen Buller and Germaine R. Chappelle of Montgomery & Andrews, P.A., Santa Fe, NM, City of Santa Fe, and Steven Kopelman, County Attorney, Santa Fe, NM; John W. Utton and J. Brian Smith of Sheehan, Sheehan & Stelzner, P.A., Albuquerque, NM, County of Santa Fe filed an amici curiae brief for the Defendants-Intervenors-Appellants.

Andrew Peternell, Project Attorney, Boulder, CO, filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Trout Unlimited for Appellees.

Ken Salazar, Attorney General, Alan Gilbert, Solicitor General, Peter J. Ampe, Assistant Attorney General, Colorado State Attorney General's Office, State of Colorado filed an amicus brief on behalf of Defendants-Intervenors-Appellants.

Alan G. Lance, Attorney General, Clive J. Strong, Deputy Attorney General, Clay R. Smith, Deputy Attorney General, Natural Resources Division, Boise, ID; Don Stenberg, Attorney General, State of Nebraska; W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General, State of Oklahoma; Mark Barnett, Attorney General, State of South Dakota; Hoke MacMillan, Attorney General, State of Wyoming, filed an amici curiae brief for the Appellants.

Michael D. Baird, Esq. of Las Campanas Limited Partnership, Santa Fe, NM; James W. Johnson, Michael J. Pearce and Thomas R. Wilmoth of Fennemore Craig, P.C., Phoenix, AZ, Las Campanas Limited Partnership filed an amicus curiae brief for Appellants.

Michael E. Wall, Attorney, San Francisco, CA, Natural Resources Defense Council, filed an amicus curiae brief.

Before SEYMOUR, PORFILIO and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

JOHN C. PORFILIO, Senior Circuit Judge.

The issue in this appeal is whether the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has discretion to reduce deliveries of available water under its contracts with irrigation districts and cities in New Mexico to comply with the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544(ESA). Roiling beneath this question is an array of interests, many represented here. Each depends on water, "the liquid that descends from the clouds as rain, forms streams, lakes and seas, issues from the ground in springs, and is a major constituent of all living matter," a definition mocked by the 2002 drought. Webster's Third International Dictionary 2591 (3d ed.1993). In a narrowly

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drawn order addressing carefully limited circumstances, the district court held BOR has discretion to reduce contract deliveries and restrict diversions to meet its duties under the ESA. We agree and affirm that portion of the order that remains before us.

I. Endangered Species Act

The ESA, enacted in 1973, "represented the most comprehensive legislation for the preservation of endangered species ever enacted by any nation" by providing "a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved." Tenn. Valley Auth. v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 180, 98 S.Ct. 2279, 57 L.Ed.2d 117 (1978); 16 U.S.C. § 1531(b). Under Section 7, 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2), every federal agency must insure that "any action authorized, funded, or carried out by such agency ... is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the endangered species or threatened species." To do so, every federal agency is required to verify that its actions will not jeopardize any land-based listed species by consulting with, and obtaining the assistance of, the Secretary of Interior, acting through the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). 16 U.S.C. § 1536(4). Using "the best scientific and commercial data available," 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2), the agency must determine if any listed species may be present in the area affected by a proposed project and must confer with the Secretary whenever an action is likely to affect such a species. 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(3). Upon determining a species is endangered and listing it, the Secretary must designate critical habitat "on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available," 16 U.S.C. § 1533(b)(1)(A), and "make revisions ... after taking into consideration the economic impact, and any other relevant impact, of specifying any particular area as critical habitat." 16 U.S.C. § 1533(b)(2). Section 7, the Supreme Court has stated, "reveals a conscious decision by Congress to give endangered species priority over the 'primary missions' of federal agencies." Hill, 437 U.S. at 185, 98 S.Ct. 2279.

Under the regulations accompanying an ESA listing, FWS is required to consult with the affected federal agencies, reviewing "all relevant information," 50 C.F.R. § 402.14(g)(1), to formulate a Biological Opinion (BO), a comprehensive examination of "whether the action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat." 16 U.S.C. § 1536(b)(3)(A); 50 C.F.R.§ 402.02. If the BO concludes "destruction or adverse modification," 50 C.F.R. § 402.14(h)(3), FWS must "include reasonable and prudent alternatives, if any." Id. If such a reasonable and prudent alternative (RPA) results in "an incidental taking" which the FWS considers "appropriate," it must issue an Incidental Take Statement (ITS), immunizing the agency from prosecution under Section 9 of the...

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