Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Rules will change implementation of federal ESA

California Farm Bureau Federation Ag Alert 8/14/19

by Christine Souza

Rules intended to improve implementation of the federal Endangered Species Act would increase transparency and effectiveness and bring administration of the ESA into the 21st century, according to two federal agencies.

The U.S. Interior and Commerce departments released ESA rulemakings Monday.

"The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal—recovery of our rarest species," Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said. "An effectively administered act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation."

Environmental organizations and states, including California, said they would sue to overturn the administration's actions.

Farmers and ranchers, who are often directly affected by ESA regulations, have long advocated for modernizing the ESA so that it effectively recovers species without unnecessarily burdening agricultural operations.

Erin Huston, California Farm Bureau Federation federal policy consultant, said Farm Bureau expressed support for the ESA changes.

Noting that only about 2% of species on the ESA have been recovered, Huston said, "We are all about making the ESA work better for species and for resource managers. It's our view that all of the stakeholders must recognize there is a better way; we can do things more efficiently."

Specific changes finalized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service apply to ESA sections 4 and 7. Section 4 involves adding or removing species from ESA protections and designating critical habitat. Section 7 covers consultations with other federal agencies.

The regulations retain language stating, "The Secretary shall make a (listing) determination solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial information regarding a species' status."

According to the agencies, the revisions clarify that the standards for delisting and reclassification of a species consider the same five statutory factors as the listing of a species in the first place.

The Trump administration said it recognizes the value of critical habitat as a conservation tool, but adds that in some cases, designation of critical habitat is not prudent.

To ensure federal government actions would not likely jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or destroy or adversely modify their critical habitat, federal agencies must consult with the wildlife agencies under Section 7. The administration said its revisions clarify the interagency consultation process and make it more efficient and consistent.

In addition to the final joint regulations, the Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a separate revision rescinding its "blanket rule" under ESA Section 4(d). That rule had automatically given threatened species the same protections as endangered species unless otherwise specified.

The National Marine Fisheries Service had never employed such a blanket rule, so the new regulations bring the two agencies into alignment, the administration said, noting the change affects only future listings or reclassifications and does not apply to species already listed as threatened.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said the administration's ESA reforms serve the needs of species as well as people most affected by implementation of the law's provisions.

"Keeping species on the endangered list when they no longer face the threat of extinction takes valuable resources away from species that still need ongoing protection under the ESA," Duvall said. "These new regulations will provide much-needed consistency in the listing and delisting process, to better allocate critical resources to species in need."

He added that the administration's approach "will eliminate unnecessary time and expense and ease the burden on farmers and ranchers who want to help species recover."

The final regulations may be found at www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_ESA/regulation-revisions.html.

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at csouza@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Saturday September 21, 2019 02:43 PM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2019, All Rights Reserved