Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 30, 2016

Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

 Republican Attorneys General File Lawsuit to Weaken Protections for
Endangered Species' Critical Habitat

Meritless Suit Based on Right-wing Myths Would Hurt Wildlife Nationwide

WASHINGTON— Eighteen Republican attorneys general, led by Texas and Alabama, filed a lawsuit today seeking to overturn two sets of regulations that provide vital protections for endangered animals and plants around the country. The suit specifically targets the ability of the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect areas where endangered species do not currently live. If successful it would make protecting sufficient habitat for endangered species virtually impossible, and would open the door for the Trump administration to further gut protections for endangered species and put hundreds on a fast track to extinction. The Center for Biological Diversity will intervene to defend against this lawsuit and make sure endangered species get the protection they need to avoid extinction and recover. 

“This attack on much-needed protections for endangered species habitat is unfounded and out of step with strong majorities of the American public, who want to see our wildlife saved from extinction," said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center. “There’s just no way to save endangered species without protecting the places where they live. We’ll intervene in this case to defend these vital protections and make sure Donald Trump doesn't sell out species on the brink of extinction.” 

The Endangered Species Act requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate “critical habitat” — habitat needed by endangered species to survive — in both occupied and unoccupied areas to ensure those species have a shot at recovery. Research indicates that protected species with designated critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering as those without it.

Identifying which places an endangered animal or plant needs to survive, and designating them as critical habitat, is a first step in building a strategy for recovery. Critical habitat helps species by requiring federal agencies to make sure their actions do not destroy that habitat. Importantly, it does not require states or private parties to change their activities unless they receive federal funding or a permit for that action. Despite the common-sense protections critical habitat provides, the 18 state attorneys general continue to propagate right-wing myths that critical habitat is a “land grab” by oppressive federal bureaucrats.

“Republican politicians like to pretend they care about wildlife, but this lawsuit shows the deep hatred toward endangered species that these ideological attorneys general possess,” said Hartl. “These politicians would allow America’s natural heritage to be snuffed out just to increase quarterly profits for their political benefactors.” 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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