Biden administration repeals Trump-era regulation that made it less likely for areas to be classified as protected habitat under Endangered Species Act; rule required US Fish and Wildlife Service to accept all claims of economic harm by private landowners

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July 20, 2022 (press release) –

The Biden administration today repealed a second Trump-era regulation that significantly weakened habitat protections for threatened and endangered species.

The rule made it much less likely that areas would be classified as protected critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. It radically altered the process used to weigh the benefit of protecting a habitat for threatened and endangered species against the economic impacts of preserving it. In particular, the rule required the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to accept without question all claims of economic harm by private landowners, no matter how exaggerated.

“Trump’s disastrous efforts to weaken the bedrock law protecting our nation’s wildlife from extinction are dead, and good riddance,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Last month the Biden administration revoked another Trump administration rule that severely restricted the areas that could be considered critical habitat. It limited protections to areas that could currently support species and excluded areas that were previously occupied and could be restored. It also ignored places that could provide additional habitat for future recovery efforts as climate change shifts where species can live.

On July 5 a federal court vacated the three remaining rules enacted by the Trump administration that had gutted the Endangered Species Act.

“Under Trump’s rule, a landowner could have ludicrously claimed they planned to build the next Taj Mahal or Disneyland on their property to avoid it being protected as critical habitat,” said Greenwald. “I’m grateful this rule was repealed and that some semblance of common sense has been restored to protecting essential habitat for our endangered plants and animals.”

The Center recently filed a legal petition urging the wildlife agencies to not only undo the Trump-era rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act but push for ambitious new regulatory safeguards that strengthen all aspects of the law.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


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