The recent ruling, Conine said, “muddies the waters on the future of these programs.”
Following the judge’s initial order, the Service quickly froze the issuance of HCP-related permits. However, on Nov. 4 it said in a memo that it would resume issuing the permits, but that the assurance of “No Surprises” would not apply should the rule be invalidated.
In the interim, NAHB had contacted the Fish and Wildlife Service to express its concern and to convey its view that suspending the permits was not warranted by the judge’s order. As a way of moving forward, NAHB suggested the possibility of including the “No Surprises” clause in permits on an individual basis instead of including it automatically in all habitat conservation plans.
As all of the stakeholders await a final ruling from Judge Sullivan, the future of the "No Surprises" clause remains in doubt.
NAHB plans to meet with FWS officials to discuss the economic and policy implications of an invalidated "No Surprises" rule, and to discuss ways to avoid future misunderstandings about the permitting program.
For more information about habitat conservation plans and the ruling, e-mail Christopher Galik or call him at 800-368-5242 x8663.
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