States promise lawsuits over changes to Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON (AP) — California and Massachusetts say they’ll go to court to fight the Trump administration’s overhaul of the Endangered Species Act.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (hahv-YEHR’ beh-SEH’-rah) said Monday that they planned to sue. It came hours after the administration announced broad changes to the way the government would enforce endangered species protections.

Both Democratic state prosecutors pointed to a United Nations report earlier this year warning that more than 1 million species globally are in danger of extinction.

Becerra told reporters that “this is not the time to go low, go slow or go backward.”

Several conservation groups also have promised court fights. The administration says the changes will reduce regulatory burdens while still protecting struggling species.

The Trump administration has finalized changes to enforcement of the landmark Endangered Species Act, a move it says will improve transparency and effectiveness but critics say will drive more creatures to extinction.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt unveiled the changes Monday.

The changes end blanket protections for animals newly deemed threatened and allow federal authorities for the first time to take into account the economic cost of protecting a particular species.

Conservation groups say the changes disregard the impacts from climate change, one of the largest threats to habitation.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official Margaret Everson said the changes “provide the maximum degree of regulatory certainty” while protecting species.

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