In the November issue of The Environmental Law Reporter, the Environmental Law Institute published the transcript of a dialogue that I moderated on the Trump administration's proposed changes to the rules for the Endangered Species Act. I was joined by a diverse group of panelists consisting of Dave Owen (U.C. Hastings Law), Holly Pearen (Environmental Defense Fund), Steve Quarles (Nossaman), and Jonathan Wood (The Property and Environmental Research Center). We covered most of the big-ticket items in the proposed changes, including section 4(d) rules, critical habitat designations, and the section 7 consultation regulations.
If you would like to learn more about EPIC's perspectives on the proposals, check out our comment letter. One of the most challenging proposals to understand was the redefinition of the "environmental baseline" in a section 7 consultation. Our comment letter suggests major changes to the proposed definition to simplify it and avoid confusion.
We understand that the administration is likely to finalize the proposals by the end of this year. When that happens, we'll offer our analysis on how the final rules differ from the proposals. I suspect that most of the proposals will be finalized with few changes.
I also believe that how the final regulations affect species conservation will depend largely on how the federal government administers the regulations. Unfortunately, there's no quick and easy way to figure that out, except to track the each government decision and look for patterns over time. We'll be doing just that for the section 4(d) rules, the interpretation of the "foreseeable future" in listing decisions, and the designation of critical habitat. When we launch our new webpage to track those changes, we'll be sure to post about it on this blog.