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Restore the Endangered Species Act

Delivery to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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What’s At Stake

In the waning days of the Trump administration, the Endangered Species Act was under attack — the administration made up its own definition of “habitat,” and put in place a new process that made it easier for industry to destroy essential wildlife habitat. Earthjustice filed lawsuit after lawsuit to stop Trump from gutting the law, and tens of thousands of Earthjustice supporters rose to the occasion and pushed back during multiple public comment periods. Together we held the line. Last month, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) began the process to officially rescind the Trump administration’s harmful actions. The USFWS and NMFS opened comment periods to gather your input  and we need your help to encourage them to move as quickly as possible to restore the Endangered Species Act. 

This is a critical first step — but unfortunately, it only addresses some parts of the last administration’s damage. In 2019, the Trump administration weakened the Endangered Species Act by allowing economic concerns to be considered in scientific decision-making, among other harmful changes, and those changes have not yet been reversed by President Biden. Earthjustice, our partners, and our supporters did not back down. Less than two weeks after the last administration finalized this rollback, we took them to court. Shortly after, thousands of Earthjustice supporters pushed Congress to pass the PAW and FIN Act, which would have rolled back the rollback.  

Our efforts in Congress and in court are ongoing, but we now have a new opportunity, with President Biden, to begin the process of restoring the Endangered Species Act. It will take much of next year and will happen in multiple parts, but with your help we will see this through — starting with these two comment periods. Join us in supporting the USFWS and NMFS for moving to rescind the Trump rules making it harder to protect essential habitat and call on it to work as quickly as possible so it can move on to restore the rest of the Endangered Species Act. 

Photo of Steller sea lions jumping from a rock ledge into the Northern Pacific Ocean
Vladimir Burkanov / NOAA

Steller sea lion populations have plummeted due to industrial overfishing, but Earthjustice legal efforts helped preserve Endangered Species Act protections for the species.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.