AUSTIN – On Nov. 29, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that Texas and 17 other states filed a lawsuit challenging new federal rules broadly expanding the definition of “critical habitats” for endangered and threatened species.
The multi-state lawsuit charges that the stringent rules would allow the federal government “to designate areas as occupied critical habitat, containing the physical and biological features essential to conservation, even when those areas are neither occupied nor contain those features.”
The rules extend federal authority over expansive areas where there may be “indirect or circumstantial evidence” that a protected species had ever occupied.
The suit also states that “under this interpretation, (the federal government) could designate entire states or even multiple states as habitat for certain species.”
“This is nothing more than yet another end run around Congress by a president who is desperate to establish his environmental legacy by any means necessary before his time in office ends in less than 60 days,” Paxton said. “The Obama administration is hiding behind bogus rules to perpetrate land grabs, kill energy projects and block economic development.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama against the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Alabama is taking the lead in the lawsuit. Joining Alabama and Texas are the attorneys general from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
New Mexico is represented by its Department of Game and Fish.