Texas AG joins 14-state coalition seeking repeal of expansion of Endangered Species Act

By David Yates | Jan 19, 2017

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a coalition of 14 states in sending a letter to the incoming Trump Administration urging it to immediately repeal two new rules that broadly expand the definition of critical habitat for endangered species promulgated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

“The Obama administration abused the limits of its office when it expanded the power of unelected bureaucrats to kill economic development on private property,” Paxton said.

“One can only imagine how such unbridled authority would affect the men, women, and children who depend on that property for their financial security. 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, even if it destroys the livelihood and investments of everyday American families.”

In the Jan. 17 letter, 14 attorneys general said the new rules pushed by the federal agencies “unlawfully and vastly expand the authority of the Services to designate areas as critical habitats.”

Furthermore, the rules “violate the (Endangered Species) Act because they expand the regulatory definition of a critical habitat beyond its narrow statutory definition.”

The attorneys general also noted that the rules expand the definition of “adverse modification” of critical habitat beyond what is legally permitted.

Last November, Texas and 17 other states sued the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the current Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce, to challenge the rules.

The Obama administration filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Jan. 13.

Besides Texas, the states who signed the letter to the Trump transition team are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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