United States Ninth Circuit

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Defenders of Wildlife v. Zinke, 15-55806

In an action brought by the Defenders of Wildlife concerning the possible impacts of the Silver State South solar project on the desert tortoise, the district court's summary judgment in favor of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and other federal officials is affirmed where: 1) the Biological Opinion's determination that Silver State South would not result in jeopardy to the desert tortoise did not impermissibly rely upon unspecified remedial measures; and 2) the Biological Opinion's determination that Silver State South was 'not likely to adversely affect the critical habitat of the desert tortoise,' which permitted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to forego an adverse modification analysis, was neither arbitrary nor capricious; 3) the Biological Opinion's failure to address the Fish and Wildlife Service's comments to a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was not arbitrary or capricious because the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and the Biological Opinion evaluated substantially different plans; and 4) because the Biological Opinion was neither legally nor factually flawed, the Bureau of Land Management permissibly relied upon the Biological Opinion in approving of the right-of-way for Silver State South.

Appellate Information

  • Argued
  • Submitted
  • Decided
  • Published 2017/05/18




  • United States Ninth Circuit


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