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NEWS RELEASE
Steven T. Marshall
Alabama Attorney General www.ago.alabama.gov

AG State Building

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Mike Lewis (334) 353-2199
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 August 15, 2017

ATTORNEY GENERAL STEVE MARSHALL LEADS 18-STATE COALITION CALLING ON SUPREME COURT TO OPPOSE OVERLY BROAD DEFINITION OF CRITICAL HABITAT

(MONTGOMERY) – Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is leading 17 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court opposing federal efforts to impose an overly broad definition of critical habitat for endangered species to include areas where the species do not and cannot live.

“Under President Obama, the federal government vastly expanded the definition of what constitutes a critical habitat, going even beyond the boundaries of what is considered habitable for an endangered species, to include areas that may never be inhabitable by that species,” said Attorney General Marshall.  “The result is an unprecedented and costly land grab.

“If federal bureaucrats are allowed to designate land as critical habitat for a species even though that species does not and cannot live on the land, then there is no limit to areas they can claim.  The results could be grave for Alabama’s agriculture, timber and mining industries, to name a few.”

Attorney General Marshall and the 17 other attorneys general asked that the U.S. Supreme Court overturn a recent decision by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld and expanded the ability of the federal government to redefine critical habitat areas.  They further argued that the federal court ruling actually violates the Endangered Species Act’s own limitations on the designation of unoccupied land as critical habitat.

“If the (Interior) Secretary finds occupied areas are insufficient for conservation, he may designate any unoccupied areas as critical habitat regardless of whether the area is or ever will be habitable by the species.  Under the Fifth Circuit’s reasoning, although the Secretary must show areas where the species is present have all physical and biological features essential to conservation, no such showing is required for unoccupied lands.”

In a related case, 18 states, including Alabama, sued the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce, to challenge the rules in November.  The Obama administration filed a motion to dismiss this lawsuit on January 13, 2017.

Joining Alabama in filing the amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court are Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

A copy of the 17-page filing is attached to this release.

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