Press Releases

Boozman: Put Brakes on Critical Habitat Rules

Requests extended public comment period for rule changes to Endangered Species Act

Jun 19 2014

WASHINGTON – Following an announcement that the Obama Administration is proposing two new rules and a new policy related to critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is urging the federal agencies involved to extend the public comment period to at least six months. The Senator was joined in his request by colleagues on several committees with power to conduct oversight on ESA implementation. 

The three proposals are extremely complex and could have major implications in states like Arkansas, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is seeking to designate large areas as critical habitat for the Neosho Mucket and the Rabbitsfoot Mussel. In a letter to Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), and Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Boozman and Senators David Vitter (R-LA), John Thune (R-SD) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) note that the proposals could have wide-ranging impacts on private and public landowners. The Senators urge that those impacted stakeholders need additional time to understand and comment on how the rules will impact them. 

“These new proposals will have far-reaching consequences that will affect a variety of land users because they have the potential to fundamentally shift the requirements for designating critical habitat,” wrote the Senators. “The substantial impact is particularly assured given the decision by the FWS to enter into settlement agreements that require listing determinations on more than 250 species nationwide. Also, these latest proposal come on the heels of the Administration’s distortion of economic impact analysis of critical habitat designations, which they implemented last year.” 

Boozman has been working to hold the agencies accountable as the Administration tries to make it easier to designate critical habitat. Last year, Boozman worked to prevent changes to economic impact analysis that the Administration conducts when carrying out the ESA. The administration’s proposal allows the government to consider only the “incremental impacts” of a critical habitat designation, rather than the full impacts of both a species listing and habitat designation. You can read a letter that Boozman and other Senators sent on this issue here

Then, after the Administration proposed massive new designations in Arkansas, Boozman worked with the Arkansas congressional delegation and wrote a letter to Director Ashe challenging the critical habitat designation for the Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot Mussel in Arkansas. 

Boozman is working with the Arkansas Delegation and others to develop legislation that will put a check on the Administration’s efforts. 

Arkansans can review the new proposed rules and the new proposed policy here, and provide comments: 

Two Proposed Rules: 

Federal Register - Interagency Cooperation-Endangered Species Act of 1973, as Amended; Definition of Destruction or Adverse Modification of Critical Habitat 

Federal Register - Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat; Implementing Changes to the Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat

Proposed Policy: 

Federal Register - Policy Regarding Implementation of Section 4(b)(2) of the Endangered Species Act

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