“For some species that are on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss or climate change, and there’s literally not a lot of habitat left, we need every tool in the toolbox to be able to protect the remaining habitats that could be suitable,” said Bridget Fahey, division chief for conservation and classification at the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Biden Administration’s Environmental Agenda
President Biden is pushing stronger regulations, but faces a narrow path to achieving his goals in the fight against global warming.
A critical habitat designation does not restrict activity on private land unless it involves federal authorization or funding; federal agencies must ensure that any actions they fund, permit or conduct do not destroy or adversely modify such habitats.
The move comes amid an intensifying biodiversity crisis, with an estimated million plant and animal species around the world threatened with extinction. A main cause is habitat loss as people transform wild areas into farms, cities and towns. Pollution and climate change make the problem worse.
The change by the Biden administration is the first of several expected reversals of Trump-era rules that govern the Endangered Species Act. Officials expect to rescind a second rule, also related to habitat needs, next month. And earlier in June, they proposed a new rule that would strengthen protection of species in a changing climate by allowing regulators to introduce experimental populations of animals outside their historic ranges.