AG Balderas Sues to Stop Trump Administration’s Rollback of Endangered Species Act Regulations

For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2019
Contact: Matt Baca (505) 270-7148

Santa Fe, NM—Attorney General Hector Balderas, joining a coalition of 18 attorneys
general and the City of New York, today filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump
Administration’s rollback of the Endangered Species Act. The challenge argues that
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision
to finalize three rules that undermine the key requirements and purpose of the
Endangered Species Act is unlawful.
“Protecting New Mexico’s pristine environment and fighting for environmental justice for
New Mexican families is one of my top priorities as attorney general,” said Attorney
General Balderas. “I will continue to fight every one of President Trump’s attempts to roll
back regulations that protect our wildlife, our environment, and our New Mexico
For over 45 years, the Endangered Species Act has protected thousands of iconic and
threatened species, including the bald eagle, California condor, grizzly bear, and
humpback whale. Enacted under the Nixon Administration in 1973, the ESA is intended
“to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.” The Trump
Administration’s rules would dramatically weaken current protections and reduce federal
Endangered Species Act enforcement and consultation, putting
these endangered species and their habitats at risk of extinction.
In New Mexico, there are 53 species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act.
In the lawsuit, the coalition challenges the rules as arbitrary and capricious under the
Administrative Procedure Act, unauthorized under the Endangered Species Act, and
unlawful under the National Environmental Policy Act. Of specific concern are the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisherie’s Service actions to:
• Inject economic considerations into the Endangered Species Act’s sciencedriven, species focused analyses;
• Restrict the circumstances under which species can be listed as threatened;
• Expand the Act’s narrow exemptions for designating critical habitats and limit the
circumstances under which a habitat would be designated, especially where
climate changes poses a threat;
• Reduce consultation and analyses required before federal agency action;
• Radically depart from the longstanding, conservation-based agency policy and
practice of providing the same level of protection to threatened species
afforded to endangered species, which is necessary to prevent a species from
becoming endangered;
• Push the responsibility for protecting imperiled species and habitats onto the
states, detracting from the states’ efforts to carry out their own programs and
imposing significant costs; and
• Exclude analysis of and public input on the rules’ significant environmental
Attorney General Balderas is joined in filing the lawsuit by the attorneys general
of California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan,
Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,
Vermont and Washington, as well as the City of New York.