ESA Implementation Thrown Into Flux
ESA Implementation Thrown Into Flux

On June 4, 2021, the Biden administration announced its intent to rescind or revise several implementing regulations for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) finalized under the prior administration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has not yet published these proposed rules in the Federal Register, nor has the Service provided the exact dates when it intends to publish the proposed rules.

In its announcement, the Service indicates its intent to rescind regulations governing how the Service conducts critical habitat exclusion analyses under ESA section 4(b)(2) and how the Service defines “habitat” in the context of designating critical habitat under ESA Section 4. The latter regulation was adopted by the Trump administration following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where the Court held that the Service must first find that an area actually contains habitat for the species at issue before it can include that area in a proposal to designate critical habitat for a listed species.

The Service also intends to revise regulations governing implementation of ESA section 7 consultations by revising the definition of “effects of the action,” as well as regulations governing how species are listed and delisted under ESA section 4.  The Service has not yet elaborated on the full extent of its proposed revisions.

Finally, the Service will propose to reinstate its “blanket 4(d) rule,” which previously applied the ESA section 9 “take” prohibition to all threatened species, unless a species-specific “4(d)” rule exempting take a specific area from the take prohibition was adopted. Under the current the 2019 listing regulation that this proposal would repeal, species listed as threatened are not subject to the ESA section 9 “take” prohibition, unless the Service adopts a specific 4(d) rule applying the take prohibition to that species in a specific area.

  • Brooke M. Marcus

    Brooke Marcus is a natural resources lawyer focused on assisting the renewable energy sector with maintaining compliance with environmental laws. She is go-to counsel for matters involving the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the ...

  • Rebecca Hays Barho

    Rebecca Hays Barho focuses her practice on natural resource law, with particular emphasis on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Clean Water Act ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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