The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries (the Services) are amending regulations pertaining to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in an attempt to streamline and clarify various key implementing provisions of this long-standing and powerful Act. The three proposed regulation changes, intended to be part of a comprehensive update to help improve the efficiency and consistency of implementing the ESA, were published today in the Federal Register – opening up a 60 day comment period. The Services are accepting public comment on the proposed rule changes through September 24, 2018.
The proposed changes address key provisions of the ESA, including:
• Streamlining the definition of destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat;
• Modifying how the effects of an action are addressed in a consultation;
• Changing the timing and nature of certain types of consultations;
• Amending provisions regarding listing and delisting of species; and
• Revising regulations pertaining to threatened species.
According to Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, revisions to ESA are infrequent. According to the Services, there have been no comprehensive amendments to the Act since 1988, and no comprehensive revisions to the implementing regulations since 1986. Any business or property owner in Florida whose business or development plans may require consultation with the Services, should take note of these changes to determine the effect on their business.