Judge overturns Endangered Species Act amendments made by Trump admin

A California federal judge has overturned a Trump-administration era change to the Endangered Species Act in what is seen as a win for environmental groups.  

According to the Washington Examiner, the changes to the act are said to be a decision that will create a way to reinstate protections for threatened species.

The 2019 modifications mandated by the Trump administration are invalidated by the decision made by Obama appointee and U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of Northern California.

The change would have limited the situations under which species might be labeled as “threatened.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was no longer compelled to offer species labeled as “threatened” the same protections as those categorized as “endangered” under those regulations. These regulations also permitted the listing of species as vulnerable or endangered based on economic considerations.

Conservation groups made the decision to challenge the rules in a 2019 lawsuit, arguing that the policies “threatened to upend decades of clarity and protections for hundreds of species that have benefited from the established policy.”

“The Court spoke for species desperately in need of comprehensive federal protections without compromise,” Kristen Boyles, an attorney at Earthjustice, said in a press release hailing the decision Tuesday.

“Threatened and endangered species do not have the luxury of waiting under rules that do not protect them.”

The decision on Tuesday clears the way for the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to start formally repealing the Trump administration’s legislation.

Both organizations declared last year that they are rescinding or revisiting five ESA regulations that the Trump administration adopted, including designations for critical habitats.

The so-called “blanket rule,” which requires additional protections for species that are newly identified as threatened, will be reinstated, according to the administration.

“This decision is a win for America’s most at-risk wildlife, including species in national park ecosystems,” Bart Melton, wildlife program director for the National Parks Conservation Association, said Tuesday. “We are grateful for the court’s restoration of protections that were removed by the previous administration. “

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