On Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed comments, along with several other state attorneys general, advocating to rescind the Trump era Habitat Exclusion Rule that is allegedly unlawful and could lead to numerous vulnerable habitats from no longer being protected by federal law.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) promulgated the Habitat Exclusion Rule which “creates a new process that will result in FWS’s exclusion of potentially substantially more areas from critical habitat designations and the associated protections under the ESA (Endangered Species Act).” According to the comments, the definition of a habitat “ fails to account for species’ need to expand their current ranges or to migrate to currently unoccupied habitat in response to habitat destruction or loss, including from the increasingly severe and existential threat of climate change, to ensure species recovery and survival.”
Attorney General Bonta claimed in his press release that this rule violated the Endangered Species Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. Furthermore, he urged the Biden Administration to rescind this rule immediately and to “address the significant threats posed by habitat destruction and degradation and climate change.” The Attorney General of Nevada added, in the comments, that “the preservation, protection, management and restoration of wildlife within the State contribute immeasurably to the aesthetic, recreational and economic aspects of these natural resources.”
The attorneys general are seeking declaratory judgment that the Habitat Exclusion Rule violated the ESA, APA and NEPA, an order vacating the issuance of the Rule, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.
Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the City of New York in this effort to rescind the Habitat Exclusion Rule.