Attorney General Becerra Denounces Trump Administration’s Proposed Rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today harshly criticized the Trump Administration’s proposed rollbacks of rules implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Attorney General Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, leading a coalition of ten state attorneys general, submitted a comment letter describing critical flaws with the ESA rollbacks proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“The Trump Administration’s proposal would risk bringing critical wildlife closer to extinction. We must voice strong opposition to this regressive and short-sighted proposal,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I have instructed my team at the California Department of Justice to look closely at the Trump Administration’s actions. We will evaluate any steps we can take to uphold the crucial protections provided by the Endangered Species Act. I invite Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to visit California and see firsthand how the Endangered Species Act has benefited not just our unique wildlife and robust habitats, but our people and our prosperity as well.”
For over 45 years, the ESA has protected thousands of iconic and threatened species, including the bald eagle, California condor, grizzly bear, and humpback whale. The agencies’ plan would dramatically weaken current protections and reduce federal ESA enforcement and consultation, putting these endangered species and their habitats at risk of extinction.
In the letter, Attorney General Becerra criticized the Trump Administration for its proposed rollbacks, which would significantly weaken protections for the nation’s most imperiled species by:
- Decreasing the likelihood that species would be listed for protection;
- Decreasing the likelihood that critical habitat would be designated for protection;
- Reducing required consultation with federal agencies, thereby reducing federal agencies' opportunities to evaluate and issue findings that proposed actions will have adverse impacts, and to require necessary mitigation for such impacts on listed species and critical habitat; and
- Repealing regulations that protect threatened species from harm, harassment, or death from human activity.
The Endangered Species Act is one of many landmark federal environmental laws passed in the 1970s, a time when Congress and the American public were becoming more aware of and troubled by the advancing degradation of the nation’s natural resources. It has been one of our country’s most effective tools for ensuring human activities that may adversely affect endangered and threatened species and their habitats are avoided or significantly reduced, preventing the extinction of 99% of species listed under the Act since its inception in 1973.
A copy of the comment letter can be found here.