Seventeen AGs Filed Comments Criticizing ‘Unduly Restrictive’ Proposed Definition of ‘Habitat’ Under Endangered Species Act

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a coalition of 17 attorneys general in filing comments sharply criticizing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service’s proposed definition of “habitat” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The coalition highlighted numerous problem with the proposal and warned that at its core, the proposal contradicts the principle of “institutionalized caution” underlying the ESA, and threatens to “arbitrarily limit the Services’ ability to recover imperiled species by reducing — in some cases potentially severely — the amount and type of critical habitat that can be protected under the Act.” The comments also noted that the proposal “arbitrarily stakes its entire justification” on an “exceedingly narrow” 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision, and has not undergone required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review.