Friday June 24, 2022
To better fulfill the conservation purposes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (together the “Services”) will rescind a final rule, published in December 2020, which established a regulatory definition of “habitat” specific to designation of critical habitat under the ESA.
The decision follows Executive Order 13990, which directed all federal agencies to review and address agency actions to ensure consistency with Biden-Harris administration objectives. The Services conclude that codifying a single definition of “habitat” could impede the Services’ ability to fulfill their obligations to designate critical habitat based upon the best available science. Eliminating the rule will provide clarity and transparency for the public in better understanding what constitutes habitat for given species.
“The growing extinction crisis highlights the importance of the Endangered Species Act and efforts to conserve species before declines become irreversible,” said Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz. “Today’s action will bring implementation of the Act back into alignment with its original purpose and intent and ensures that species recovery is guided by transparent science-based policies and conservation actions that preserve America’s biological heritage for future generations.”