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SBA Holds Roundtable on Process for Identifying Critical Habitat

January 18, 2013

On Aug. 24. 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service published a proposed rule to enact changes to the process for designating critical habitats for endangered species.

“Revisions to the Regulations for Impact Analysis of Critical Habitat,” calls for the agencies to publish their economic analysis simultaneously with any proposed rule designating critical habitat. In addition, FWS proposes several significant revisions to the process it uses to conduct economic impact analyses.

On Jan. 9, 2013, the SBA Office of Advocacy hosted a roundtable to gather input from small entities on the proposal. Participants included small entity representatives from the transportation, real estate, oil and gas, and electric generation industries, and representatives of county governments and conservation groups. The group expressed support for the principle of increasing the transparency of the critical habitat designation process and making the economic analysis available earlier.

There were concerns, however, with the proposed changes to the process for conducting economic analyses. Participants wanted the FWS to:

  • Establish a process for requesting and obtaining economic information in a timely fashion;
  • Commit to seeking and using the most accurate data available for their economic analyses; and
  • Formally espouse the goal of conducting a quantitative economic analysis with every critical habitat designation and use qualitative information only as a last resort.

The deadline for comments is Feb. 6.