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17 states sue feds over Endangered Species Act lawsuit

Gene Johnson
Associated Press

Seattle – Seventeen states are suing to block Trump administration rules weakening the Endangered Species Act.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, right, announces a lawsuit challenging Trump's use of Washington military project funding to pay for border wall in this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, file photo. New Endangered Species Act rules from the Trump administration which, for the first time allow officials to consider how much it would cost to save a species, were called “death by a thousand cuts” for the law by Ferguson.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, follows a similar challenge filed last month by several environmental groups, including the Humane Society and the Sierra Club.

The new rules begin taking effect Thursday. They for the first time allow officials to consider how much it would cost to save a species. They also remove blanket protections for animals newly listed as threatened and make it easier for creatures to be removed from the protected list.

The administration and congressional Republicans have said the changes improve the law. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said they ease “the regulatory burden on the American public” without sacrificing conservation goals.

Democratic Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson called it “death by a thousand cuts” for the law.