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Attorney General Becerra Files Motion for Summary Judgment in Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration Rollback of Endangered Species Act Protections

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh today led a multistate coalition in filing a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of federal Endangered Species Act protections. In 2019, the Trump Administration finalized three rules revising numerous key requirements of the Endangered Species Act’s implementing regulations at the behest of industry groups. The multistate coalition filed their lawsuit shortly after. In today’s motion, the coalition argues that the final rules violate the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act, and should be vacated immediately.

“From the California condor to the humpback whale, California is home to more than 300 endangered and threatened species,” said Attorney General Becerra. “These precious fish and wildlife deserve our protection. That's why we're filing a motion today asking the court to set aside the Trump Administration's disastrous attempt to weaken federal protections for endangered species. 

For over 45 years, the Endangered Species Act has protected thousands of iconic and threatened species, including the bald eagle, California condor, grizzly bear, and humpback whale. Enacted under the Nixon Administration in 1973, the Endangered Species Act is intended “to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost." California has more listed species than any other mainland state, as well as tens of millions of acres of federal public lands subject to the statute’s consultation requirements.

In September 2019, Attorneys General Becerra, Healey and Frosh, led a coalition of 18 attorneys general and the City of New York in filing a lawsuit challenging U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service's (Services) decision to finalize three rules that undermine the key requirements and purpose of the Endangered Species Act. The next month, Attorney General Becerra welcomed Minnesota and Washington into the coalition. The coalition secured a critical victory last May when the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected the Services’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

In today’s motion, the coalition argues that the District Court should find the Trump Administration’s disastrous changes to the Endangered Species Act unlawful because:

  • Each of the final rules violates both the letter and purpose of Endangered Species Act;
  • The final rules fail to meet the basic standards for agency rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act;
  • The Services failed to provide adequate notice and comment on aspects of the final rules that are not a “logical outgrowth” of the proposed rules; and
  • The Services violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the final rules. 

Attorneys General Becerra, Healey, and Frosh are joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the City if New York, in their defense of the Endangered Species Act.

A copy of the motion can be found here.