Skip Navigation
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
Home | Careers | Press Room | Opinions | Español | Other Languages | Contact Us

September 26, 2019


Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with a coalition of 17 other attorneys general and New York City, today filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s rollbacks of Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations. Raoul and the coalition filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California arguing that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to promulgate three rules that undermine the key requirements and purpose of the ESA is unlawful.

“For years, the ESA has protected thousands of threatened and endangered species,” Raoul said. “With these new rules, the federal government is once again turning its back on science and putting these species and the environment at risk. I am committed to continuing to fight federal attempts to ignore or roll back existing environmental protections.”

The ESA is intended 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 these endangered and threatened species and their habitats at risk of extinction. Over 30 species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA reside in Illinois, including the piping plover (Charadrius melodus).

In the lawsuit, Raoul and the coalition challenge the rules as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, unauthorized under the ESA, and unlawful under the National Environmental Policy Act. Of specific concern are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service actions to:

  • Inject economic considerations into the Endangered Species Act’s science-driven, species-focused analyses.
  • Restrict the circumstances under which species can be listed as threatened.
  • Expand the Act’s narrow exemptions for designating critical habitats and limit the circumstances under which a habitat would be designated, especially where climate changes poses a threat.
  • Reduce consultation and analyses required before federal agency action.
  • Radically depart from the longstanding, conservation-based agency policy and practice of providing the same level of protection to threatened species afforded to endangered species, which is necessary to prevent a species from becoming endangered.
  • Push the responsibility for protecting imperiled species and habitats onto the states, detracting from the states’ efforts to carry out their own programs and imposing significant costs.
  • Exclude analysis of and public input on the rules’ significant environmental impacts.

Joining Raoul in the lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as New York City.


Return to September 2019 Press Releases

go to top of page

© 2020 Illinois Attorney General HomePrivacy Policy Contact Us