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Last Monday, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a proposed rule that would amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by outlining a process for the Secretary of the Interior to identify exceptions to critical habitat designations. The service asserts the new rule, announced September 4, will “articulate clearly when and how FWS will undertake an exclusion analysis, including identifying a non-exhaustive list of categories of potential impacts for FWS to consider.” The proposal centers on Section 4(b)(2) of the ESA, which currently allows the secretary to exclude any area from a critical habitat designation as long as the exclusion would not lead to the extinction of the species. Among the proposed categories for consideration in the process are concerns related to national security and economic impacts, two items currently listed in the ESA as potential considerations for critical habitat designations, and “nonbiological impacts identified by State or local governments.”

AMWA will be developing comments on the rule and is seeking feedback from the Sustainability Committee and any other members with an interest in this issue. Staff will be offering listening sessions where the key components of the proposal will be presented and also to receive comments from members. These sessions will take place during the following times:

  • September 17: 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. ET
  • September 18: 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET
  • September 21: 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET

Information about how to join the sessions is available here.