A little bit of legalese goes a long way. The Joe Biden administration striking a single sentence from the Trump-era definition of “habitat” allows the federal government to broadly protect endangered species in any habitat where they could potentially reside.
The U.S. Fish, Wildlife and Parks Service alongside the National Marine Fisheries Services announced on Thursday that they are changing a sentence in the 1973 Endangered Species Act that had been modified under former President Donald Trump to limit the definition of “habitat” to places that could “sustain” endangered species.
In the original bill, “habitat” was defined as anywhere the animal could reside, allowing regulators to protect anywhere an endangered species could be possibly relocated to.
Division chief for conservation at the the fish and wildlife service Bridget Fahey told The New York Times the Trump-era definition was extraordinarily limiting since there’s so little habitat left for endangered species to reside. Assistant secretary at the agency Shannon Estonez said in a press release that the change “will bring implementation of the act back into alignment with its original purpose.”
The critical habitat designation does not relate to privately-owned land unless property owners get federal funding or otherwise require federal permits to use their land, according to the FWS.
Trump made the change to the definition of habitat in December of 2020. That administration had a penchant for ignoring the plight of endangered…