Critical Habitat Comments Submitted
February 8, 2013

The American Sheep Industry Association this week joined other national and state affiliates in submitting comments regarding the Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed rulemaking to revise the regulations for economic impact analyses of critical habitat designations. 
 
The proposed regulation changes were first outlined in a Presidential Memorandum seeking to improve transparency and public comment by providing the public access to both the scientific analysis and the draft economic analysis when critical habitat (CH) is proposed. Industry supports this aspect of the proposed rule. 
 
However, other aspects would have the effect of rendering meaningless the economic impact analysis required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Congress intended this analysis to be done to determine whether certain areas should be excluded from CH designation to avoid "needless economic dislocation," in other words, to determine whether the economic harm outweighs the benefits of a CH designation. The services propose to use the "incremental" or "baseline" approach to analyzing economic impacts, which means that the analysis excludes the impacts of the ESA listing and only includes the incremental impacts that a CH will have on the economy. This waters down the overall impacts that a listing and consequential CH designation will have on the local economy. 
 
The comments are available at www.sheepusa.org/user_files/file_1192.pdf.