AG Balderas Sues to Stop Trump Administration’s Rollback of Endangered Species Act Regulations

Santa Fe, NM—Attorney General Hector Balderas, joining a coalition of 18 attorneys general and the City of New York, today filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Endangered Species Act. The challenge argues that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to finalize three rules that undermine the key requirements and purpose of the Endangered Species Act is unlawful.

“Protecting New Mexico’s pristine environment and fighting for environmental justice for New Mexican families is one of my top priorities as attorney general,” said Attorney General Balderas. “I will continue to fight every one of President Trump’s attempts to roll back regulations that protect our wildlife, our environment, and our New Mexico heritage.”

For over 45 years, the Endangered Species Act has protected thousands of iconic and threatened species, including the bald eagle, California condor, grizzly bear, and humpback whale. Enacted under the Nixon Administration in 1973, the ESA is intended “to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.” The Trump Administration’s rules would dramatically weaken current protections and reduce federal Endangered Species Act enforcement and consultation, putting these endangered species and their habitats at risk of extinction.

In New Mexico, there are 53 species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act.

In the lawsuit, the coalition challenges the rules as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, unauthorized under the Endangered Species Act, and unlawful under the National Environmental Policy Act. Of specific concern are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisherie’s Service actions to:

  • Inject economic considerations into the Endangered Species Act’s science-driven, species focused analyses;
  • Restrict the circumstances under which species can be listed as threatened;
  •  Expand the Act’s narrow exemptions for designating critical habitats and limit the circumstances under which a habitat would be designated, especially where climate changes poses a threat;
  • Reduce consultation and analyses required before federal agency action;
  • Radically depart from the longstanding, conservation-based agency policy and practice of providing the same level of protection to threatened species afforded to endangered species, which is necessary to prevent a species from becoming endangered;
  • Push the responsibility for protecting imperiled species and habitats onto the states, detracting from the states’ efforts to carry out their own programs and imposing significant costs; and
  • Exclude analysis of and public input on the rules’ significant environmental impacts.

Attorney General Balderas is joined in filing the lawsuit by the attorneys general of California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the City of New York.