The lawsuit is a response to the Trump administration’s recent dismantling of our most effective law for protecting wildlife—the worst blow to the act since its inception.
Environmental groups, including NRDC, sued the U.S. Department of the Interior today in order to block a significant rollback of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—one of the country’s most popular and effective environmental laws. “In the midst of an unprecedented extinction crisis,” says Rebecca Riley, legal director for NRDC’s Nature Program, “the Trump administration is eviscerating our most effective wildlife protection law.”
Under the weakened ESA, agencies can, for the first time, insert economic costs into the discussions over a species' listing. One of the law’s core principles has always been to base those decisions strictly on scientific data. The rollback also withholds critical habitat for species at risk from climate change and weakens protections for species newly designated as threatened—a status less dire than endangered but nonetheless requiring urgent action to stem population loss before it becomes irreversible. “These regulatory changes will place vulnerable species in immediate danger—all to line the pockets of industry,” Riley says.
The administration’s rollback comes on the heels of a bombshell United Nations report that warned of a worldwide biodiversity crisis, predicting the extinction of one million species by the end of the century if business continues as usual. “We are counting on the courts to step in before it’s too late,” Riley says.
The lawsuit was filed by Earthustice on behalf of NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, and the National Parks Conservation Association.