Press Release
Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes Rules to Strengthen Protection and Recovery of Threatened and Endangered Species and Their Habitats
Media Contacts

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) have finalized three rules that will restore important protections for species and their habitats, strengthen the processes for listing species, designating of critical habitat, and consultation with other federal agencies; and ensure a science-based approach that will improve both agencies’ ability to fulfill their responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These final rules demonstrate the agencies’ commitment to applying the best available science when implementing the ESA.

These rules help further President Biden’s Day One executive action to ensure an all-of-government approach to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change

“As species face new and daunting challenges, including climate change, degraded and fragmented habitat, invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
, and wildlife disease, the Endangered Species Act is more important than ever to conserve and recover imperiled species now and for generations to come,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams. “These revisions underscore our commitment to using all of the tools available to help halt declines and stabilize populations of the species most at-risk. We will continue to use the best-available science when implementing the ESA — including when making listing and delisting decisions, designating critical habitat, developing protective regulations for threatened species, and consulting on federal actions.”

“Working with our partners, NOAA Fisheries is improving the process for managing species under the Endangered Species Act with a focus on mitigation of ongoing threats such as altered ecosystems due to climate change,” said NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit. “By leveraging the best available science, we ensure the law remains robust as we work to conserve and recover endangered and threatened species and their habitats.”

On June 22, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries announced three proposed rules revising portions of the ESA implementing regulations. A combined total of approximately 468,000 comments were received during the public comment periods on these three rules.

The agencies have finalized two separate rules to revise joint ESA regulations regarding interagency cooperation, listing determinations, and critical habitat designations. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a third rule to reinstate the “blanket rule” option for protecting threatened species under section 4(d) of the ESA.

These final rules:  

•    Improve and clarify interagency consultation; 
•    Clarify the standards for classification decisions;
•    Align the critical habitat designation process with the ESA;
•    Emphasize that listing decisions and critical habitat designations are based on the best available science; and
•    Reinstate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 4(d) “blanket rule” options that were in place before 2019 for protecting threatened species, which will allow for greater efficiencies when the Service finds the blanket rule protections are appropriate.

The ESA has been highly effective and credited with preventing the extinction of over 99% of the listed species it has protected over its 50-year history. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted due to recovery actions or downlisted from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status. Hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of federal agencies, Tribes, state and local governments, conservation organizations, industry and private citizens.

The final rules and additional information are available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act Regulations website and will publish in the coming days in the Federal Register at by searching Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2021-0104, Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2021-0107, and Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2023-0018. The rules will be effective 30 days after publication.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit and connect with us on social media:  FacebookInstagramX (formerly known as Twitter), LinkedInFlickr and YouTube.

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Endangered and/or Threatened species
Laws & Regulations