Published since 1946
States Sue over Critical Habitat Rules
On November 29, 18 states filed suit in federal court challenging critical habitat regulations finalized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in February. The states contend that the changes to policy would expand critical habitat designations in currently unoccupied habitat. Previously, unoccupied habitat could only be designated as critical habitat if ?such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.?
According to the suit, ?If allowed to stand, the Final Rules would allow the Services to exercise virtually unlimited power to declare land and water critical habitat for endangered and threatened species, regardless of whether that land or water is occupied or unoccupied by the species, regardless of the presence or absence of the physical or biological features necessary to sustain the species, and regardless of whether the land or water is actually essential to the conservation of the species.?
The states of Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are plaintiffs in the case.