The US Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently proposed revised Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations, in response to federal lawsuits challenging rules put in place under the Trump administration in 2019.
The proposed regulations address details about how the agencies list and delist species and how species receive default protections, what habitat is protected and how federal agencies ensure their actions don’t harm species or their habitat. There will be a 60-day public comment period and the rules are expected to be finalized by spring 2024.
The recent moves were applauded by environmental advocacy groups, including Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles:
“These are promising steps toward restoring the purpose and power of the Endangered Species Act, and getting these protections back is why we challenged the harmful Trump rules for the past four years. By mending the rules interpreting the ESA, the Biden administration can significantly help us address the worsening biodiversity crisis and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Act.”
Last summer, a federal judge ruled in response to litigation brought by conservation groups and a dozen states that the Trump 2019 rules must be vacated while the Biden administration worked to replace them. But after industry and certain US states appealed the decision, the Ninth District revised the ruling so the Trump administration rules would remain in place during the new rulemaking process.