Biden Administration Finalizes Burdensome ESA Rules

April 11, 2024

The Biden administration released three final rules under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that rewrite and roll back most of the improvements that were made under the Trump administration. These changes create a much larger regulatory burden for cattle producers. The revisions in the final rules include reinstating the blanket 4(d) rule for threatened species; prohibiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from considering the economic impact of their habitat decisions; and giving FWS the ability to designate critical habitat in areas the species does not currently occupy and that lack the features to support it in the future. 

These three rules, especially the expansion of potential unoccupied critical habitat designations, threaten the efficient operation of farms and ranches. Working lands are essential to successful species conservation. The more difficult the Biden administration makes it for producers to stay in business, the more wildlife and habitat conservation will suffer. Historically, rulemaking involving ESA has had more impact on western producers, but these new rules now put every cattle producer across the country under the threat of a critical habitat designation. The issue crosses both public and private land. NCBA opposed these rules during the comment period last year and will continue advocating for more commonsense ESA regulations.