Paul Weiland Comments on California Endangered Species Act Win for Farm Industry Groups

11.20.2020
Law360

Paul Weiland was quoted in the Law360 article, “Bees Can't Be Protected As Fish Under Calif. Law” (subscription required). The article examines a decision by Superior Court Judge James Arguelles that sets aside a state Fish and Game Commission’s decision to consider four species of bumblebees for protections under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Nossaman's Ben Rubin handled the argument.

In the decision, Law360 stated that Judge Argulles ruled that “there is no way that the California Endangered Species Act…can be construed so broadly that it allows the state to protect insects.”

The issue arose in 2018 when environmental groups asked the California Fish and Game Commission to protect four species of native bumble bees, and the commission accepted the petition, providing temporary protections while the matter was under consideration. Farm Industry groups opposed the action, arguing that CESA doesn't allow California to protect insects.

Proponents of listing the bees argued that while insects aren't listed as a species that can be protected, the “listing authority extends to insects and other invertebrates under the definition of ‘fish’” that is used in the Fish and Game Code. Nossaman’s clients, a coalition of farm industry groups including the Almond Alliance of California, argued this was an overreach.

Commenting on the win for our clients, Paul said, "[I]f protections were extended to the four types of bees, it would have created uncertainty for [the farming] industry and potentially led to the protection of additional insects later on.” He added that the “judge got it right” and “the plain meaning really is a compelling argument."

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