“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) jointly propose revisions to regulations that implement portions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 2017, we sought public input on how the Federal government can improve upon the regulatory framework. We received substantial input from a wide range of stakeholders on modernizing the implementation of the ESA in order to improve collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness. Firstly, the agencies propose changes to some of the parameters under which other federal agencies must consult with the Service and NOAA Fisheries to ensure their actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species, or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. The agencies also propose various measures to clarify and improve some of the standards under which listings, delisting, and reclassifications, and critical habitat designations are made. In addition, the Service independently proposes a change in its approach to applying protections to threatened species that would align its practice with NOAA Fisheries so the two agencies are consistent in their application of this provision of the ESA. The Service proposes to remove its blanket rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that automatically conveys the same protections for threatened species as for endangered species. This change will not affect the protections for species currently listed as threatened, but will ensure that species listed as threatened in the future receive the protections tailored to the species’ individual conservation needs. All changes are being proposed as part of a robust, transparent public process. The agencies encourage the public to provide input to ensure these regulations are effective in furthering the ESA’s ultimate goal—recovery of our most imperiled species to the point they no longer need federal protection.
- View the proposed Section 4 (listing and critical habitat) rule: Federal Register notice.
- View the proposed 4(d) (protective regulations) rule: Federal Register notice.
- View the proposed Section 7 (interagency cooperation) rule: Federal Register notice.”
- Why it matters: “The changes could reduce protections for at-risk plants and animals, and make it easier to delist species / Axios.”