Court Vacates Trump Administration's Rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act

July 5, 2022: Today, the District Court for the Northern District of California the sweeping 2019 Trump administration rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations. The decision will restore vital default protections from killing and harm for species newly listed or reclassified as threatened. It will also wipe away changes that made it harder to list species and designate critical habitats for them, introduced avenues for economic considerations to improperly influence listing decisions, weakened the protections provided by the agency consultation requirement, and in many ways undermined the ability of the ESA to provide protections in the face of climate change. 

Sierra Club was represented in this case by Environmental Law Program staff attorney Karimah Schoenhut and Earthjustice. Faced with plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment, the Biden administration asked the court for remand without vacatur instead of responding to the merits of the claims. Because that would leave the harmful Trump rules in effect while the agencies worked on new rulemakings to revise them, Sierra Club and other plaintiffs asked the court to vacate the rules instead. In its decision to vacate the rules, the court observed that the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service had "made substantial concessions regarding the infirmity of the 2019 ESA Rules."