For Immediate Release, July 5, 2022

Contact:

Jackson Chiappinelli, Earthjustice, (585) 402-2004, jchiappinelli@earthjustice.org
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495, ngreenwald@biologicaldiversity.org
Hawk Hammer, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0295 Hhammer@defenders.org
Medhini Kumar, Sierra Club, medhini.kumar@sierraclub.org
Josh Mogerman, NRDC, (312) 651-7909 jmogerman@nrdc.org
Kati Schmidt, National Parks Conservation Association, (415) 847-1768 kschmidt@npca.org
Joe Bushyhead, WildEarth Guardians, (505) 660-0284, jbushyhead@wildearthguardians.org
Rodi Rosensweig, The Humane Society of the United States, (202) 809-8711, RRosensweig@humanesociety.org

Federal Court Restores Critical Endangered Species Act Protections

Administration Planned to Keep Harmful Trump-Era Regulations in Place for Indeterminate Period

WASHINGTON— In a win for wildlife protection and conservation, a federal district court today restored comprehensive Endangered Species Act regulatory protections to hundreds of species and the places they call home.

The Services filed a voluntary remand motion in December 2021 in response to a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), National Parks Conservation Association, Wild Earth Guardians, and the Humane Society of the United States challenging harmful rules put in place by the Trump administration in 2019.

The Services asked to partially rewrite flawed Endangered Species Act regulations while keeping them in place during a rulemaking process that could take years to complete. The court disagreed and vacated the 2019 ESA regulations instead.

Conservation groups challenged the Trump administration rules for undermining protections for imperiled species and habitat necessary for their survival, and their lawsuit was joined by a group of states, led by California, as well as an animal welfare group.

The Trump rules threatened to upend decades of clarity and protections for hundreds of species that have benefited from the established policy.

“The court spoke for species desperately in need of comprehensive federal protections without compromise,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney at Earthjustice. “Threatened and endangered species do not have the luxury of waiting under rules that do not protect them.”

“Trump’s gutting of endangered species protections should have been rescinded on day one of the Biden presidency,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With this court ruling, the Services can finally get on with the business of protecting and recovering imperiled species.”

“The 2019 rollbacks to the ESA regulations were an unlawful and irrational mess that undermined critical protections for wildlife,” said Karimah Schoenhut, attorney for the Sierra Club. “In the midst of a global extinction crisis, the court's decision to vacate the rules will help ensure that imperiled species receive the protections they desperately need.”

“The Trump administration’s assault on the nation’s most important wildlife protection law made no sense at the time — and even less now as we see a biodiversity crisis unfolding globally with more clarity each day,” said Rebecca Riley, managing director of the Nature Program at NRDC. “The court’s decision ensures that the previous Administration’s ‘extinction package’ will be rolled back so that the ESA can do its job: preventing the extinction of vulnerable species.”

“Today brought a key piece of Trump’s attack on imperiled species and the Endangered Species Act to an end,” said Mike Senatore, vice president of conservation law for Defenders of Wildlife. “Instead of being bound by unscientific and illegal Trump rules, we are thrilled that the Biden administration will have a clean slate to safeguard hundreds of species amidst the ongoing extinction crisis. We are all impacted by biodiversity loss and combating it must be a priority.”

“This decision is a win for America’s most at-risk wildlife, including species in national park ecosystems,” said Bart Melton, wildlife program director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “We are grateful for the court’s restoration of protections that were removed by the previous administration. The climate crisis continues and it’s critical that the Biden administration as well as conservationists, Tribes, states and communities work together to conserve America’s most imperiled species.”

“The Trump administration’s weakened rules were misguided and dangerous for wildlife,” said Joe Bushyhead, endangered species attorney with WildEarth Guardians. “We’re relieved that threatened and endangered species and their habitat once again have full protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

“Today’s decision puts these dangerous and shortsighted rollbacks in the bin where they belong,” said Nicholas Arrivo, an attorney for the Humane Society of the United States. “The ESA is overwhelmingly popular because it works at preventing extinction of our most vulnerable species, and now the administration can ensure that it continues to do so.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC

About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. www.npca.org

WildEarth Guardians protects and restores the wildlife, wild rivers, wild places, and health of the American West. Founded in 1989, Guardians has a long history of conservation successes protecting wildlife and the landscapes on which they depend. To learn more, visit www.wildearthguardians.org.