Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Vermont Joins Lawsuit Challenging Rollback of Endangered Species Act Protections

September 25, 2019

Contact: Ryan P. Kane, Assistant Attorney General, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general and the City of New York to file a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s rollback of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For over 45 years, the ESA has been an essential conservation tool that has protected thousands of iconic species, including the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, California condor, grizzly bear, and humpback whale. Today’s lawsuit challenges 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 ESA.

“These rules gut protections for threatened and endangered species, including many found here in Vermont,” said Attorney General Donovan. “The rules ignore climate change and inject economic considerations into what, by law, should be a science-driven analysis. The result jeopardizes the survival of species on this planet. This is unlawful and unacceptable.”

The ESA was enacted in 1973 to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost. The federal government’s rules would dramatically weaken current protections and reduce federal ESA enforcement and consultation, putting endangered species and their habitats at risk of elimination. In Vermont, there are 52 animal species listed as endangered or threatened, 8 of which are listed under the ESA. In addition, there are 163 plant species listed, 3 of which are listed under the ESA. If enacted, these rules would weaken protections of wildlife both within Vermont and outside the state while also placing additional burdens on the State to protect this irreplaceable resource.

Joining Attorney General Donovan in the coalition are attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as New York City.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

Last modified: September 25, 2019