Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Two American bald eagles are perched on a nesting stand at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Two American bald eagles are perched on a nesting stand at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

17 States File Suit to Stop Trump Administration's Crippling of Endangered Species Act

"The only thing we want to see extinct are the Trump Administration's beastly environmental policies."

Andrea Germanos

Seventeen states on Wednesday sued the President Donald Trump administration over its recent move "to eviscerate" the Endangered Species Act.

"As we face the unprecedented threat of a climate emergency, now is the time to strengthen our planet's biodiversity, not to destroy it," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who's leading the coalition. "The only thing we want to see extinct are the beastly policies of the Trump Administration putting our ecosystems in critical danger."

The suit (pdf), brought by 17 states and the District of Columbia and the City of New York, was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California. It comes a month after the administration finalized a series of rollbacks to the law—a move Mass Audubon president Gary Clayton called "another example of the Trump administration's continuing war on the nature of America."

As Jonathan Hahn explained at Sierra magazine last month, the new regulations, which are set to take effect Thursday,

significantly weaken the process for listing and enforcing Endangered Species Act protections and inject economic and potentially political considerations into that process where none had existed before. They will bring to an end automatic protections for threatened species, make it easier to delist species (by raising the bar for what evidence is required to show that a species is threatened or endangered), and limit the ways in which climate change can be factored into listing decisions in "the foreseeable future"—essentially removing climate change as a consideration just as the global climate crisis is accelerating.

According to the new lawsuit, the new rules "violate the plain language and purpose of the ESA, its legislative history, numerous binding judicial precedents interpreting the ESA, and its precautionary approach to protecting imperiled species and critical habitat." The legal action also accuses the Trump administration of failing "to consider and disclose the significant environmental impacts of this action in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act."

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who joins with Becerra and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh in leading the leagal action, wrote on Twitter Wednesday: "The Trump Administration wants to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act. We won’t let them threaten our environment just so oil and gas companies can make a quick buck."

The other states involved in the suit are Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

They aren't the first group to launch a legal challenge to the administration's weakening of the ESA, as a coalition of environmental and animal advocacy groups filed suit (pdf) last month.

"We're coming out swinging to defend this consequential law," Becerra said in his statement, "humankind and the species with whom we share this planet depend on it."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Unemployment Benefit Cut-Off Will Slash Annual Incomes By $144 Billion: Analysis

"By failing to extend unemployment benefits, Congress and the White House will harm working people struggling in the pandemic."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden-Backed Aukus Deal Could Spell 'Disaster' for Climate Cooperation With China

One U.K. lawmaker said reaching a "positive outcome" at the upcoming talks in Glasgow "just got a whole lot harder."

Jon Queally ·



Exclusive: Jared Kushner's Family Firm Set to Unleash Eviction Wave Amid Pandemic

"Kushner is the poster child for ultra-rich landlords clamoring to boost their bottom line by kicking families to the curb, even if it comes at the expense of public health."

Jake Johnson ·


Patient Group Targets Pair of Democrats for 'Selling Us Out to Drug Companies'

"It makes me so angry that members of Congress are choosing Big Pharma over patients. It's unforgivable."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo