Thursday, February 25, 2021
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Saturday, January 16, 2021
Land Grab: Enviros Sue to Restore 'Critical' Habitat Rules
By News Release @ 6:12 PM :: 758 Views :: Environment

Groups Challenge Trump Administration’s Latest Assaults on the Endangered Species Act

Regulations finalized last month strip vital protection from imperiled species’ essential recovery habitat

News Release from EarthJustice Jan 14, 2021

HONOLULU, HI —Today, Earthjustice filed two lawsuits in the District of Hawai’i in response to the outgoing administration’s most recent attacks on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the law that serves as the last safety net for animals and plants facing extinction. Toward the end of last month, the Trump administration issued two new regulations that strip vital protections from federal lands and other areas that the best available science indicates are necessary for the conservation of threatened and endangered species.

The first case challenges the Trump administration’s cramped interpretation of “habitat,” which reverses nearly half a century of protections for habitat that needs restoration to meet species’ needs, as well as areas that species will need in the future as refuges to survive dramatic changes to the world’s climate. “The drafters of this rule were clearly more concerned with easing industry regulation than upholding the foundational purpose of the ESA — to ensure the protection, conservation and recovery of imperiled species,” said Earthjustice Attorney Elena Bryant, lead attorney on the challenge to the habitat definition. “We are going to Court to restore protections for the habitat that is essential to pull species back from the brink of extinction.”

The second rule strips vital protections from federal lands and other areas that the best available science indicates are necessary for the conservation of threatened and endangered species, and prioritizes profits for polluting industries over the conservation needs of wildlife facing extinction. “Critical habitat is a bedrock protection afforded to imperiled species under the Act,” said Earthjustice Attorney Leinā‘ala L. Ley, lead attorney challenging the critical habitat exclusion rule. “By making it harder to designate critical habitat, this rule virtually guarantees that the loss of biodiversity and our natural heritage will only accelerate.”

The proposed changes directly undermine the Act’s purpose to prevent extinction and promote recovery. The lawsuits were filed in Hawai’i where the new rules could be especially damaging due in part to limited habitat for native species found nowhere else on earth. 

Earthjustice filed both lawsuits on behalf of Conservation Council for Hawai’i, Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Sierra Club, and WildEarth Guardians. 

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) joined the critical habitat exclusion challenge and will also be represented by Earthjustice. 

“The new Regulation makes it easier for federal land to be excluded from critical habitat, a result that would be particularly harmful to listed bird species that depend heavily on federal lands such as Northern Spotted Owl,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President at American Bird Conservancy. “These listed bird populations are in decline and facing serious threats. We should be adding protections, not chipping away at the safety net of the ESA.”

“By requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to listen to industry rather than science when designating critical habitat, the Trump administration’s new rule is an absolute disaster for endangered species and the places they live,” said Noah Greenwald, Endangered Species Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Endangered Species Act was enacted to stop extinction, not facilitate it, and we expect the Court to strike down this industry giveaway.”

“Threatened and endangered national park species require more than just park lands for their survival and recovery,” said Bart Melton, Wildlife Program Director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “These regulations make it harder to protect vital areas outside of parks for wildlife and prioritize short-term profit over America’s conservation future. In the midst of the climate crisis we should be working to uphold the core tenants of the Endangered Species Act, instead these regulations critically damage the intent of the Act. NPCA is hopeful these regulations will be reversed.”

“Critical habitat is a central pillar of the ESA’s protections for listed species, and an essential part of what has made the Act a huge success for the past fifty years,” said Lucas Rhoads, Attorney at NRDC. “These rules tie the Services’ hands and make it more difficult to protect the areas that listed species need if they are to survive and flourish. To stem the biodiversity crisis we now face, we need the Services to use all the tools available to them—not sell out to industry special interests at the expense of these precious species.” 

“In the midst of the first-ever human caused extinction crisis, one of the worst things you could do is impose restrictions on protection of areas essential to imperiled species’ recovery and prioritize corporate profits over preserving the Earth’s biodiversity,” said Bonnie Rice, Sierra Club Endangered Species Campaign Representative. “Yet that is exactly what the Trump Administration has done. Their relentless decimation of vital protections of the Endangered Species Act will be fought at every turn.”

“Lack of habitat is the main reason why so many species are imperiled,” said Jason Rylander, Defenders of Wildlife senior counsel. “For wildlife to have a fighting chance, they need a place to live. If we hope to save the most vulnerable wildlife from extinction, we will need to prioritize habitat restoration in their recovery.”

“Hawai‘i is the endangered species capitol of the world; our small island home has over 30% of the nation’s listed plant and animal species,” said Moana Bjur, Executive Director of Conservation Council for Hawai‘i. “For us, protecting endangered species and ecosystems is necessary not only to ensure biodiversity and climate resiliency, but also to honor our history and cultural heritage as a place.”

“Designation of critical habitat is a crucial piece of the recovery process for species who have received ESA listing status,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “This new rule shrinks the areas even eligible to be designated as critical habitat for numerous species, making an endangered or threatened species' struggle to truly recover and thrive all the more precarious in our ever-changing and developing world.”


2012: 'Critical habitat': Feds Seize Control of 67 square miles on Oahu; Maui Next


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii


Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii