[Ed. – For the purpose of these special protections, lands are supposed to include the habitats of threatened or endangered species. Where lands don’t include habitats for those species, they were never intended to qualify.]
Eighteen states have filed a lawsuit against the federal government over Final Rules that expand the definition of “critical habitat” to include areas that are currently unoccupied by any threatened or endangered species.
The Final Rules, Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat, which were published in the Federal Register on February 11 and went into effect March 14, expand the definition of “critical habitat” to include areas in which “species presence or habitats are ephemeral in nature, [or] species presence is difficult to establish through surveys (e.g. when a plant’s ‘presence’ is sometimes limited to a seed bank).”
“The Final Rules are an unlawful attempt to expand regulatory authority and control over State land and waters,” argues the multi-state lawsuit, which was filed November 29th in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama against Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and the National Marine Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.