Revett Silver Co. may build a silver mine on land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service without adversely affecting threatened grizzly bears and bull trout, says the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The three-judge panel rejected environmental claims by the Rock Creek Alliance that the FWS failed to conduct a proper analysis of the impact the mining would have on the bears and fish. They argued the case should have been reinstated after a trial court ruling in favor the FWS and mining company.
The group alleged the mining would violate the Endangered Species Act because the bears and fish are listed as threatened.
Revett Silver Co. asked to build and operate a copper and silver mine in northwest Montana in an area controlled by the FWS. The Service issued two opinions that the mine would have no adverse affect on the trout habitat and would not jeopardize the local grizzly bear population.
The environmentalists argued the FWS opinions looked at a broad geographical area of the larger watershed, rather than focusing on the habitat area of the two species, allegedly creating a flawed analysis of potential damage.
Judge Harry Pregerson wrote the court found the mitigation plan fulfilled agency requirements.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination that the mine would entail ‘no adverse modification’ to bull trout critical habitat and would result in ‘no jeopardy’ to grizzly bears was not arbitrary, capricious, or in violation of the Endangered Species Act.”
He was joined by Judges Kim Wardlaw and Milan D. Smith Jr.
Case: Rock Creek Alliance v. US Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 10-35596