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17 states sue Trump administration over Endangered Species Act changes

By
Daniel Uria
A coalition of 18 attorneys general and the city of New York sued the Trump administration over changes to the Endangered Species Act. File Photo by Michael Kleinfeld/UPI 
A coalition of 18 attorneys general and the city of New York sued the Trump administration over changes to the Endangered Species Act. File Photo by Michael Kleinfeld/UPI  | License Photo

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A coalition of 17 states, Washington, D.C., and the city of New York filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Wednesday over rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act.

The coalition, led by attorneys general in California, Massachusetts and Maryland, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint says three new rules undermine the key requirements and purpose of the Endangered Species Act and are unlawful.

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Attorneys general in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington also signed on as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Conservationists also filed a lawsuit last month challenging the changes.

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Last month, the U.S. Interior Department announced changes to the law that will limit which animals are allowed on the endangered species list, allow the government to make economic considerations when deciding threats to wildlife and limit how far into the future it looks to determine if a species will become threatened or extinct.

The lawsuit states that the changes are arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, unauthorized under the Endangered Species Act and unlawful under the National Environmental Policy Act.

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It specifically cites the actions to "inject economic considerations" into the act's analyses, restrict the circumstances under which species can be listed as threatened and reduce consultation and analyses required before taking federal action, among other aspects.

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"As we face the unprecedented threat of a climate emergency now is the time to strengthen our planet's biodiversity, not destroy it," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. "The only thing we want to see extinct are the beastly policies of the Trump administration putting our ecosystems in critical danger."

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy said the coalition is suing "to defend federal law and protect our imperiled wildlife and environment."

"As we face a climate emergency and global extinction crisis threatening more than a million species, the Trump Administration is gutting Endangered Species Act protections to pave the way for oil and gas developments," Healey said.

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