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Court strikes down Trump-era ESA rules

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A federal district court recently vacated regulations promulgated by the Trump administration under the Endangered Species Act. The Biden administration had previously announced that it was rewriting those regulations, and had requested that the Trump regulations remain in place during the re-write. The court, in response to a lawsuit from environmental organizations, instead vacated the rules and put the previous rules, finalized during the 1980s, back into effect.

The vacated Trump-era rules, finalized in 2019, included:

- a rule that modified how the agency could add, remove, and reclassify endangered or threatened species and the criteria for designating listed species’ critical habitat,

- a rule that reversed the agency’s former policy of automatically extending to threatened species the protections against “take” that the ESA automatically affords to endangered species, and

- a rule that changed the consultation process, through which USFWS works with federal agencies to prevent proposed agency actions that could harm listed species or their critical habitat.

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