February 27, 2017

Supreme Court clears way for lumber company challenge to salmon protections

In Central Coast Forest Association v. Fish and Game Commission, the Supreme Court today holds that a lumber company can proceed with its challenge to the Fish and Game Commission’s decision to not remove coho salmon south of San Francisco from the state’s endangered species list.  The court’s unanimous opinion by Justice Ming Chin is procedural only.  It reverses a 2-1 decision by the Third District Court of Appeal, which had held that a petition to “delist” a species could not be used to challenge an “original listing” decision.

Not only are the justices in agreement about the result, so are the parties.  As the court reports, “Notably, the Commission agrees with plaintiffs that the Court of Appeal erred, and that a delisting petition may, based on new evidence, challenge an earlier listing decision.”  The opinion remands the case for the Court of Appeal to address in the first instance the substantive issues about which the parties do not agree.

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