June 4, 2021 –
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it will be rolling back a significant portion of Endangered Species Act (ESA) reforms put in place by the Trump administration. House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:
“Today’s ESA announcement is yet another example of how out of touch the Biden administration is with the needs of rural Americans. Many of the reforms put in place under President Trump were born out of input from local communities and the men and women most affected by the policies created in Washington. Yet by reinstating burdensome regulations, this administration has once again opened the door for environmental groups to weaponize the ESA and use it to delay critical projects across the country. These changes will result in greater inefficiency in the federal permitting process and reduce incentives for proactive conservation that helps save species. Furthermore, the Biden administration’s actions are legally questionable, as the proposals aim to replace regulations that stem from a Supreme Court decision. Weaponization was never the purpose of the ESA, and we must bring it back to its original intent: protecting wildlife that’s most at risk. Anything beyond that, including these proposed regulations, is nothing more than bureaucratic overreach and a giveaway to radical environmental interests. I urge the administration to abandon these actions and instead meaningfully engage with local governments and stakeholders to build upon the work done in the previous administration to modernize and reform the ESA.”
The FWS will begin revising, rescinding or reinstating five ESA provisions promulgated by the Trump administration, including two that were the result of Supreme Court case Weyerhaeuser Co. v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service et. al.:
- Rescind the regulations related to exclusions from critical habitat designations.
- Rescind the regulatory definition of habitat.
- Reinstate the blanket 4(d) rule, which ensures private landowners, state agencies and others are not unduly burdened by regulations that do not further the conservation of a species.
- Reinstate prior language affirming that listing determinations are made “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination.”
- Revise the definition of “effects of the action” and associated provisions to that portion of the regulation addressing interagency consultation.
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