Saturday, July 20, 2024

US Government Restores Endangered Species Regulations Weakened By Trump


The US government this week issued a series of regulations — previously weakened by the Trump administration — meant to restore protections for endangered species and their habitats.

The new rules — issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service — are meant to “strengthen the processes for listing species, designating of critical habitat, and consultation with other federal agencies; and ensure a science-based approach that will improve both agencies’ ability to fulfill their responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).”

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said:

“As species face new and daunting challenges, including climate change, degraded and fragmented habitat, invasive species and wildlife disease, the Endangered Species Act is more important than ever to conserve and recover imperiled species now and for generations to come. These revisions underscore our commitment to using all of the tools available to help halt declines and stabilize populations of the species most at-risk. We will continue to use the best-available science when implementing the ESA — including when making listing and delisting decisions, designating critical habitat, developing protective regulations for threatened species, and consulting on federal actions.”

While NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit added:

“Working with our partners, NOAA Fisheries is improving the process for managing species under the Endangered Species Act with a focus on mitigation of ongoing threats such as altered ecosystems due to climate change. By leveraging the best available science, we ensure the law remains robust as we work to conserve and recover endangered and threatened species and their habitats.”

The three rules were first proposed last June, and approximately 468,000 comments were received during the public comment periods on those rules.

These final rules:

  • “Improve and clarify interagency consultation;
  • “Clarify the standards for classification decisions;
  • “Align the critical habitat designation process with the ESA;
  • “Emphasize that listing decisions and critical habitat designations are based on the best available science; and
  • “Reinstate the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s 4(d) ‘blanket rule’ options that were in place before 2019 for protecting threatened species, which will allow for greater efficiencies when the Service finds the blanket rule protections are appropriate.”

The Endangered Species Act has been credited with preventing the extinction of over 99% of the listed species it has protected over its 50-year history. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted due to recovery actions or downlisted from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.