(Some people are attempting to make public comment by commenting on the Herp Alliance Blog page. This will NOT work! Comments must be emailed directly to FWS at email address with sample letter)
The “Categorical Exclusion” (CatX) proposed earlier this month by US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is the single most dangerous threat ever fielded against herpetoculture! If enacted, CatX would pave the way for FWS to easily add species to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act by waving due process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires due process with science, economics and social impact considered prior to listing. CatX would eliminate NEPA mandated impact studies! Please read this entire alert and take the action outlined below!
Small Business Administration Meeting:
On July 17, 2013, the US Herpetoculture Alliance led a coalition of small business stakeholders and associations in a meeting with the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy (SBA) in Washington, DC. SBA was interested in collecting input from stakeholders regarding small business impacts of the proposed FWS CatX. This was the most important high level government meeting in several years; and likely the last prior to the CatX debate. Participants included representatives from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), Zoologic Association of America (ZAA), US Herpetoculture Alliance, The Frog Ranch, Gourmet Rodent and Vida Preciosa International (VPI). Our coalition was very well received, and we believe SBA will come out in support of small business. PIJAC/USARK were invited, but declined to attend.
Meetings at US House and Senate:
While in Washington, DC, Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt met with Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) from the US House Natural Resources Committee (HNR) and professional staff from the Senate Environmental & Public Works Committee (EPW). FWS published notice of the CatX over the 4th of July holiday weekend without directly contacting impacted stakeholders. It has taken some time to analyze the CatX and formulate an informed opinion. The current deadline for public comment is July 31st. The Herp Alliance, AZA and ZAA have all requested that FWS extend the deadline for public comment on CatX by 60 days. HNR and EPW are supportive of our requests.
On behalf of the Herp Alliance, Congressman McClintock promised to ask new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell whether she was aware of the CatX and it’s implications.
“Madam Secretary, you may be aware that FWS recently proposed a rule for Categorical Exemption from NEPA mandates regarding “Injurious Wildlife Listings” under the Lacey Act. This Committee understands well the challenges in dealing with invasive species, however, I am concerned that exempting the FWS from addressing the Environmental, Economic and Social impacts of proposed additions to the list could be extremely damaging to small business; as several of the species FWS seems to be targeting are widely traded and would have a significant economic impact. I’d like your commitment to look into this matter and get back to me before the service finalizes their rule making on this issue”. ~ Congressman Tom McClintock
The US Herpetoculture Alliance expects to have an answer from Secretary Jewell prior to the July 31st deadline for public comment.
Make Public Comment Today; Deadline July 31st!
It is of paramount importance that the herpetoculture community take CatX seriously and make comment prior to the deadline. Herp Alliance CEO Andrew Wyatt expressed his concerns regarding CatX, “I am afraid that CatX has not registered with herpers… this is the greatest threat to ownership and trade of herps in the history of herpetoculture”! CatX is a much greater threat than the python ban. FWS seeks to completely exclude themselves from the scientific and economic considerations they currently must observe. If CatX is enacted FWS can arbitrarily add any animal to the Injurious Wildlife list without due process under NEPA. Further, legal recourse under NEPA would no longer be available. Wyatt added, “Make no mistake, this is the biggest threat we have ever faced. Nothing is safe under CatX. All reptiles and amphibians are at risk! Please make public comment”.
The Herp Alliance implores you to make public comment prior to the deadline of July 31, 2013. We have developed a template covering the most pertinent talking points along with an individual request for a 60 day extension on public comment. You can also use the talking points to write your own comment. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more detailed talking points.
***Copy and paste the following template into an email and send it to FWS. Be sure to include the subject line. Make public comment prior to July 31 deadline. Email directly to:
Email Address: email@example.com
Subject Line: Categorical Exclusion; FWS–HQ–FHC–2013–N044
I am against the proposed US Fish & Wildlife “Categorical Exclusion” from NEPA mandates. This action could facilitate the arbitrary addition of animals to the injurious wildlife list of the Lacey Act; potentially threatening the entire $1.4 billion annual commerce in reptiles and amphibians. Not only would it negate due process, but it would also negate legal recourse under NEPA. Categorical Exclusion could potentially become a tool to destroy my small business. Please consider the following points:
- The proposed categorical exclusion bypasses the requirement to consider economic and social impacts under NEPA.
- A categorical exclusion would not allow FWS to fully consider the beneficial impacts of declining to list a species under the Lacey Act.
- The proposed categorical exclusion is much broader than any of the other eight exclusions that FWS has approved under “permitting and regulatory functions”.
- The FWS’s “extraordinary circumstances” exception to a categorical exclusion is unhelpful because it does not apply to actions with high economic impacts.
Additionally, the 30 day public comment period is far too short to make a fully informed comment. FWS published the proposed rule in the federal register over the holiday weekend. 30 days is not adequate to get full participation and quality comments. I am requesting that the public comment period be extended by 60 days.
The US Herpetoculture Alliance remains committed to providing the most sophisticated and effective advocacy available for herpetoculture. Others cannot match our talent, experience or high level connections. We break the news first, provide in depth analysis on the issues and support the community with the most effective advocacy strategy and tools.
Click here for FWS notice in Federal Register on CatX: NEPA-FWS
Click here for US Herpetoculture Alliance analysis/ talking points on Cat X: USHERP CatX Talking Points 2013