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Environmental brief ~ US FWS proposes pulling bald eagle from endangered list

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's environmental law news, the US Fish and Wildlife Service [official website] has reopened the public comment period [press release] on its original 1999 proposal to remove the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) [FWS species backgrounder] from the federal list of threatened and endangered species [backgrounder]. The bald eagle is often cited as an example of the success of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) [text]. In 1963 there were 417 nesting pairs in the contiguous US, and it was placed on the ESA list in 1967. In 2000, the last time a national bald eagle census was taken, there were an estimated 6471 nesting pairs. Today, it is believed there are over 7066 nesting pairs. If delisted, the species will continue to be monitored for five years, and will still be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and the Lacey Act [summaries]. AP has more.

In other environmental law news...

  • The Virginia State Senate passed a bill [SB 648 text] Monday to ban smoking in all public workplaces with the exception of certain tobacco stores and offices. Virginia is home to the Philip Morris tobacco company [corporate website], the state is the US's third leading tobacco producer, and tobacco is the state's second most profitable crop. Until the late 1990s, smoking was common among legislators inside the Capital building. Despite passage through the Senate, the bill is not expected to pass the House of Delegates. The Washington Post has more.

  • The US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) [official website] is considering whether to postpone for five years a proposed rule [backgrounder] that would limit the diesel fume and particulate matter levels in underground metal and non-metal (non-coal) mines, including those for limestone, gypsum, platinum, gold, silver and salt. The rule, first proposed in 2001 [PDF text, press release], gave mine operators five years before dropping the diesel limit from 308 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 160 micrograms per cubic meter. Last September, the MSHA proposed [PDF text] putting off the January 20, 2006, effective date for four months while getting comments on whether to postpone the rule for another five years. The Washington Post has more.

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