Comments Submitted to Undo Remaining Harmful Regulations from Previous Administration
Washington, DC

With the closure of the public comment period today, Defenders of Wildlife submitted recommendations that urge the Biden administration to undo the numerous harmful changes to Endangered Species Act regulations that were made during the previous administration. 

“Faced with anemic funding and an increasingly harsh Congressional landscape, the Biden administration can’t miss this opportunity to bolster the Endangered Species Act on the regulatory front and reverse these past harms,” said Robert Dewey, vice president of government relations. “Combatting the biodiversity crisis will take a commitment to fully restoring the protections under our landmark conservation law previously lost.”

In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (“Services”) proposed to reinstitute automatic ESA protections for threatened species, sometimes called the blanket 4(d) rule. However, the administration failed to remove harmful language from the previous administration’s rules which would, among other things, permit federal agencies to rely on speculative and unverified future mitigation measures to prevent harm to ESA-listed species and designated critical habitat during consultations with the Services. The rules also would allow large amounts of critical habitat for species to be destroyed or degraded by federal actions before the Services will step in to stop it.

Recommendations from Defenders of Wildlife Include: 

-The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalize its proposal to   reinstate the blanket 4(d) rule, which would extend protections to threatened species by default.

-The Services remove the Trump-era rule that allows the Services to analyze economic factors when making listing decisions, as the Endangered Species Act expressly prohibits considering economics when making such decisions.

-Fully rescind or revise several provisions that make it more difficult to list and easier to delist species under the Act.

-Fully rescind or revise language that limits the extent of critical habitat that can be defined for a species.

-Rescind language that allows the Services to rely on speculative and unverified future mitigation measures to find that federal agency actions are not likely to jeopardize the existence of listed species or adversely modify their critical habitat.

-Rescind language that sets an unreasonably high threshold for when adverse modification of critical habitat by federal agencies is likely to occur – which the Endangered Species Act prohibits.  

Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

Media Contact

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(202) 772-0295
Vice President for Government Relations
(202) 682-9400


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