Attorney General Paxton has issued a required Notice of Intent (“NOI”) to the Biden Administration to begin the process of suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (“Interior”).
The lawsuit will challenge the Biden Administration’s new rule listing the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (“LPC”) as “threatened” in the northern part of its range and “endangered” in the southern part of its range, both of which cover expansive regions within Texas. These classification changes, which burden Texas property owners with onerous new regulations wherever LPCs are present, were done with inadequate consideration of ongoing conservation measures and in violation of several federal laws.
The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to consider certain factors before a species can be classified as “endangered” or “threatened.” Similarly, if the federal agencies’ actions will significantly affect the quality of the human environment, as they would here, the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) requires the agencies to conduct an impact analysis. These federal requirements were not met in this case. Additionally, the new rule puts at risk the considerable conservation efforts that the State of Texas, other states, industry groups, private landowners, and conservation organizations have already implemented to protect LPCs.
Combining this disregard for federal law, the overly vague nature of the rule, and the failure to abide by the legally-required notice of proposed rulemaking, the new rule constitutes yet another example of the Biden Administration’s willingness to prioritize executive overreach over state-directed management and conservation of wildlife and natural resources.
“I will not tolerate the Biden Administration’s efforts to run roughshod over the property rights of Texans and to stop our conservation efforts aimed at protecting Texas wildlife,” said Attorney General Paxton. “This rule was a targeted attempt to implement an unlawful, top-down federal approach aimed at advancing a radical environmentalist agenda, which would crush the type of economic development that aids in providing funds for conservation. This isn’t going to fly in Texas.”