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ESA Caucus Co-Chairs Lead Over 100 Members of Congress in Opposing Trump Administration’s Proposal to Weaken the Endangered Species Act

Lawmakers letter comes as Trump administration launches new attacks on protections for endangered species

Washington, September 4, 2020

Today, the Co-Chairs of the Endangered Species Act Caucus Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and Congressman Don Beyer led a letter with over 100 Members of Congress to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith opposing the Trump administration’s recent proposal to weaken the Endangered Species Act. The administration’s proposed rule would narrow the definition of “habitat” under ESA, limiting protections for at-risk species and excluding important ecosystems from ESA protections.

“We are alarmed by this proposed rule, especially in the context of the three regulations finalized last year that weakened ESA implementation. This onslaught of environmental rollbacks that threaten the survival of our nation’s wildlife must stop,” the lawmakers wrote. “The proposed definition, if finalized, would limit the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conserve and restore important habitat based on the best available science for the recovery of ESA-listed species.”

“With a million species at risk of extinction globally, we should be strengthening our tools for species conservation and investing in habitat restoration,” the lawmakers continued. “By narrowly defining ‘habitat’, this rule does the exact opposite and will put more species at risk of extinction. For those reasons we oppose this proposed rule and urge you to withdraw it.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

This proposed rule is one of many actions the Trump administration has taken to roll back protections for endangered species. These changes to ESA implementation last year to limit protections for threatened species and ignore the impact of climate change when considering threats to species. Additionally, the administration today rolled out a proposed rule to further water down the ESA by expanding critical habitat exemptions.