Judge throws Trump-era rollback on endangered species

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge Tuesday dismissed a wide range of actions by the Trump administration to roll back protections for endangered or threatened species, a year after the Biden administration said it was moving to end such protections for species. strengthen.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in Northern California scrapped the Trump-era rules even if Two Conservation Organizations Under President Joe Biden Revise Or Revoke Regulations† The decision reinstates a series of protections under the Endangered Species Act – including some dating back to the 1970s – as the assessments are completed. Environmental groups welcomed the decision, which they say accelerated needed protection and critical habitat designations for endangered species, including salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

Tigar’s ruling “spoke for species in desperate need of comprehensive federal protection without compromise,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice. “Endangered and endangered species don’t have the luxury of waiting under rules that don’t protect them.”

The court ruling comes as two federal agencies — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service — are reviewing five Endangered Species Act regulations finalized by President Donald Trump’s administration, including critical habitat designations and rules that federal agencies require to consult the wildlife or fisheries services before taking any action that could affect endangered or threatened species.

Fish and Wildlife also said it will reinstate the decades-old “general rule” requiring additional protections for species recently classified as endangered. Those safeguards were removed under Trump.

Critical habitat designations for threatened or endangered species can lead to restrictions on energy development, such as mining or oil drilling that could disrupt a vulnerable species, while the consultation rule and a separate rule on the scope of proposed federal actions help determine the extent to which government may go to protect endangered species.

Under Trump, officials have rolled back protections for the northern spotted owlgray wolves and other kinds, actions Biden has vowed to review. The Biden Administration Moved Earlier to reverse Trump’s decision to weaken enforcement of the age-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which made it more difficult to prosecute energy industry-induced bird deaths.

The bird law reversal was one of more than 150 business-friendly environmental actions Trump took and Biden wants to reconsider, revise or scrap, including repeal last month of a 2020 rule that limited which countries and bodies of water could be designated as places where endangered animals and plants could receive federal protection.

A spokesman for the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, said Tuesday the agency is reviewing the court’s ruling.

Fish and Wildlife, along with the Marine Fisheries Service, announced in June 2021 that it was reviewing Trump-era actions against endangered species. It could take months or years to complete the assessments, officials said.

Industry groups and Republicans in Congress have long viewed the Endangered Species Act as a barrier to economic development, and under Trump they have successfully lobbied to weaken the bill’s regulation. Environmental groups and Democrat-controlled states fought the court action, but many of those cases remained unresolved.

Ryan Shannon, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, another environmental group, said he was “incredibly relieved” that Trump-era “terrible” rules on endangered species were being thrown out by Oakland, California-based Tigar, who was appointed to the federal bank of former President Barack Obama.

“I hope the Biden administration takes this opportunity to strengthen, not weaken, this crucial law in light of the ongoing extinction crisis,” Shannon said on Tuesday.

Rebecca Riley of the Natural Resources Defense Council said the court’s ruling “will cause the previous administration’s ‘extinction package’ to be rolled back.”

She and other advocates called on the Biden administration to ensure that the Endangered Species Act “can do its job: prevent the extinction of vulnerable species.”

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