Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 17, 2019


Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

Congressional Democrats Introduce Bill to Overturn Trump’s Disastrous Endangered Species Act Rollback

WASHINGTON— Congressional Democrats today introduced legislation to repeal regulations finalized by the Trump administration in August that would cripple implementation of the Endangered Species Act.

The legislation, H.R. 4348, already has more than 20 co-sponsors in the House and Senate. It was introduced by House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Senate Interior Appropriations Ranking Member Tom Udall of New Mexico.

“The American people were horrified by the Trump administration’s efforts to destroy the Endangered Species Act, so it’s heartening to see such strong pushback from Congress,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This legislation should be passed as soon as possible so the cruel attacks on wildlife by President Trump can be tossed into the dust heap of history.”

The Trump administration’s final rules weaken the Act’s requirements that federal agencies avoid jeopardizing endangered species or harming their critical habitat. Impacts to critical habitat will be ignored unless a federal agency’s actions impact the entirety of an imperiled species’ habitat. This disregards the cumulative “death by a thousand cuts” process that is the most common way wildlife and plants decline toward extinction.

A second set of regulations curtails the designation of critical habitat and weakens the listing process for imperiled species. Under the new rules, threats like climate change will require higher levels of “certainty” before protecting species as threatened.

A third regulation would eliminate all protections for wildlife newly designated as “threatened” under the Act by rescinding the 1978 “blanket” rule that was designed to give threatened wildlife the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their protection.

“The world is facing an extinction crisis, so Congress has to stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s wildlife heritage,” said Hartl. “We’re fortunate that so many members of Congress recognize that the Endangered Species Act has been the world’s most successful conservation law in history. We need to protect and retain the rules of the road that have worked so effectively in preventing extinction.”

If passed the legislation would restore the Act’s regulations relating to critical habitat and consultations that were finalized in 1986, and the blanket rule that was finalized in 1978. Those regulations have been successfully implemented in a bipartisan manner for decades, and only modified in minor ways — most recently in 2015 — to address legitimate conservation objectives.

Responding to the Trump administration’s proposed changes, more than 800,000 people, 250 conservation scientists, and 160 conservation organizations spoke out in opposition.

The final rules are being challenged in court for violating the Endangered Species Act’s mandate to prevent extinction and recover listed animal and plant species.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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