Stein joins other AGs to sue Trump over Endangered Species Act rollback

Attorney General Josh Stein

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has joined a coalition of state attorneys general that’s suing the Trump administration’s over its rules weakening the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

In August, the U.S. Interior and Commerce departments announced final rule changes, including mandating that regulators must look at economic factors when determining whether a species should be classified as endangered. Environmentalists protested that allows officials to ignore the impact of climate change.

In all, 18 attorneys general and New York City are plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Together, they argue that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s unlawfully undermined the 46-year-old law’s key requirements.

“We’re going to try to undo what the president is proposing to do with the Endangered Species Act,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a press conference announcing the litigation.

Other states involved in the action include Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 42 species are endangered in North Carolina and 19 are threatened. These include, plants, mammals, fish, mussels, birds, insects, spiders, reptiles and amphibians.

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in August that the changes were “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness.”

“The revisions finalized with this rule-making fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at the time. “These changes were subject to a robust, transparent public process, during which we received significant public input that helped us finalize these rules.”

In their lawsuit, the attorneys general argue that the rules as “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedure Act; unauthorized under the Endangered Species Act; and unlawful under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Of specific concern are the actions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to: Read more