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States file suit over new critical habitat rules

Cara J

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On Nov. 29, a group of 18 states filed a lawsuit in opposition to changes made this year to how critical habitat can be designated for federally threatened and endangered wildlife. The states called on the court to vacate two recently published rules and prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service from enforcing them. The rules in question, published in February, changed the regulations for defining critical habitat for species listed on the Endangered Species Act and revised the description of “destruction” and “adverse modification” of critical habitat. Of particular concern to those states filing suit was a change in critical habitat designation regulations which allows USFWS and NMFS to designate habitat as critical even if that habitat is currently unoccupied by the species in question. Before the rule change, unoccupied habitat could be designated only if the present range of the focal species was found to be inadequate to conserve the species. Under the February rule change, that provision no longer applies; occupied and unoccupied habitat can be considered simultaneously when making a critical habitat designation. The states express concerns that this provides the federal government “virtually unlimited power” to designate areas as [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/states-file-suit-over-new-critical-habitat-rules/

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