50 FR 8129, Feb. 28, 1985, unless otherwise noted.
This part prescribes the procedures to be used by the Secretary when examining applications for exemption from section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act.
Definitions applicable to this part are contained in 50 CFR 450.01.
(a) Threshold determinations. Within 20 days after receiving an exemption application, or a longer time agreed upon between the exemption applicant and the Secretary, the Secretary shall conclude his review and determine:
(1) Whether any required biological assessment was conducted;
(2) To the extent determinable within the time period provided, whether the Federal agency and permit or license applicant, if any, have refrained from making any irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources; and
(3) Whether the Federal agency and permit or license applicant, if any, have carried out consultation responsibilities in good faith and have made a reasonable and responsible effort to develop and fairly consider modifications or reasonable and prudent alternatives to the proposed action which would not violate section 7(a)(2) of the Act.
(b) Burden of proof. The exemption applicant has the burden of proving that the requirements of § 452.03(a) have been met.
(c) Negative finding. If the Secretary makes a negative finding on any threshold determination, the Secretary shall deny the application and notify the exemption applicant in writing of his finding and grounds therefor. The exemption process shall terminate when the applicant receives such written notice. The Secretary's denial shall constitute final agency action for purposes of judicial review under chapter 7 of title 5 of the United States Code.
(d) Positive finding. If the Secretary makes a positive finding on each of the threshold determinations, he shall notify the exemption applicant in writing that the application qualifies for consideration by the Endangered Species Committee.
(e) Secretary of State opinion. The Secretary shall terminate the exemption process immediately if the Secretary of State, pursuant to his obligations under section 7(i) of the Act, certifies in writing to the Committee that granting an exemption and carrying out the proposed action would violate an international treaty obligation or other international obligation of the United States.
(a) Contents of the report. If the Secretary has made a positive finding on each of the threshold determinations, he shall proceed to gather information and prepare a report for the Endangered Species Committee:
(1) Discussing the availability of reasonable and prudent alternatives to the proposed action;
(2) Discussing the nature and extent of the benefits of the proposed action;
(3) Discussing the nature and extent of the benefits of alternative courses of action consistent with conserving the species or the critical habitat;
(4) Summarizing the evidence concerning whether the proposed action is of national or regional significance;
(5) Summarizing the evidence concerning whether the proposed action is in the public interest;
(6) Discussing appropriate and reasonable mitigation and enhancement measures which should be considered by the Committee in granting an exemption; and
(7) Discussing whether the Federal agency and permit or license applicant, if any, have refrained from making any irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources.
(2) The Secretary shall designate an Administrative Law Judge to conduct the hearing. The Secretary shall assign technical staff to assist the Administrative Law Judge.
(3) When the Secretary designates the Administrative Law Judge, the Secretary may establish time periods for conducting the hearing and closing the record.
(4) The Secretary may require the applicant to submit further discussions of the information required by § 451.02(e)(5). This information will be made part of the record.
(b) Prehearing conferences.
(1) The Administrative Law Judge may, on his own motion or the motion of a party or intervenor, hold a prehearing conference to consider:
(i) The possibility of obtaining stipulations, admissions of fact or law and agreement to the introduction of documents;
(ii) The limitation of the number of witnesses;
(iii) Questions of law which may bear upon the course of the hearings;
(iv) Prehearing motions, including motions for discovery; and
(v) Any other matter which may aid in the disposition of the proceedings.
(2) If time permits and if necessary to materially clarify the issues raised at the prehearing conference, the Administrative Law Judge shall issue a statement of the actions taken at the conference and the agreements made. Such statement shall control the subsequent course of the hearing unless modified for good cause by a subsequent statement.
(c) Notice of hearings. Hearings and prehearing conferences will be announced by a notice in the Federal Register stating:
(1) The time, place and nature of the hearing or prehearing conference; and
(2) the matters of fact and law to be considered. Such notices will ordinarily be published at least 15 days before the scheduled hearings.
(d) Conduct of hearings -
(1) Admissibility of evidence. Relevant, material, and reliable evidence shall be admitted. Immaterial, irrelevant, unreliable, or unduly repetitious parts of an admissible document may be segregated and excluded so far as practicable.
(2) Motions, objections, rebuttal and cross-examination. Motions and objections may be filed with the Administrative Law Judge, rebuttal evidence may be submitted, and cross-examination may be conducted, as required for a full and true disclosure of the facts, by parties, witnesses under subpoena, and their respective counsel.
(i) Objections. Objections to evidence shall be timely, and the party making them may be required to state briefly the grounds relied upon.
(ii) Offers of proof. When an objection is sustained, the examining party may make a specific offer of proof and the Administrative Law Judge may receive the evidence in full. Such evidence, adequately marked for identification, shall be retained in the record for consideration by any reviewing authority.
(iii) Motions. Motions and petitions shall state the relief sought, the basis for relief and the authority relied upon. If made before or after the hearing itself, these matters shall be in writing and shall be filed and served on all parties. If made at the hearing, they may be stated and responded to orally, but the Administrative Law Judge may require that they be reduced to writing. Oral argument on motions and deadlines by which to file responses to written motions will be at the discretion of the Administrative Law Judge.
(e) Applicant responsibility. In proceedings conducted pursuant to this section, the exemption applicant has the burden of going forward with evidence concerning the criteria for exemption.
(f) Open meetings and record. All hearings and all hearing records shall be open to the public.
(g) Requests for information, subpoenas.
(1) The Administrative Law Judge is authorized to exercise the authority of the Committee to request, subject to the Privacy Act of 1974, that any person provide information necessary to enable the Committee to carry out its duties. Any Federal agency or the exemption applicant shall furnish such information to the Administrative Law Judge.
(2) The Administrative Law Judge may exercise the authority of the Committee to issue subpoenas for the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of relevant papers, books, and documents.
(a) Parties. The parties shall consist of the exemption applicant, the Federal agency responsible for the agency action in question, the Service, and intervenors whose motions to intervene have been granted.
(1) The Administrative Law Judge shall provide an opportunity for intervention in the hearing. A motion to intervene must state the petitioner's name and address, identify its representative, if any, set forth the interest of the petitioner in the proceeding and show that the petitioner's participation would assist in the determination of the issues in question.
(2) The Administrative Law Judge shall grant leave to intervene if he determines that an intervenor's participation would contribute to the fair determination of issues. In making this determination, the Administrative Law Judge may consider whether an intervenor represents a point of view not adequately represented by a party or another intervenor.
(a) Separation of functions.
(1) The Administrative Law Judge and the technical staff shall not be responsible for or subject to the supervision or direction of any person who participated in the endangered species consultation at issue;
(2) The Secretary shall not allow an agency employee or agent who participated in the endangered species consultation at issue or a factually related matter to participate or advise in a determination under this part except as a witness or counsel in public proceedings.
(b) Ex parte communications. The provisions of 5 U.S.C. 557(d) apply to the hearing and the preparation of the report.
(a) Upon closing of the record, the Administrative Law Judge shall certify the record and transmit it to the Secretary for preparation of the Secretary's report which shall be based on the record. The Secretary may direct the Administrative Law Judge to reopen the record and obtain additional information if he determines that such action is necessary.
(b) The Secretary shall submit his report and the record of the hearing to the Committee within 140 days after making his threshold determinations under § 452.03(a) or within such other period of time as is mutually agreeable to the applicant and the Secretary.
(a) When the Secretary is considering two or more related exemption applications, the Secretary may consider them jointly and prepare a joint report if doing so would expedite or simplify consideration of the issues.
(b) When the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce are considering two or more related exemption applications, they may consider them jointly and prepare a joint report if doing so would expedite or simplify consideration of the issues.