71 Am. U. L. Rev. 2465 (2022).
As one of the strongest federal environmental statutes, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a powerful tool for environmental litigators to uphold the important conservation objectives articulated by Congress in 1973. In recent years, the role of “critical habitat” within the ESA has come into question. The Supreme Court decided in Weyerhaeuser that “critical habitat” must also qualify as “habitat,” but it failed to articulate any guidelines for determining what “habitat” actually is. This decision incited a regulatory tug-of-war over the proper definition of “habitat” within the ESA. This Comment explores the approaches to defining “habitat” employed by the Trump and Biden administrations. This Comment further argues that while Biden’s approach better effectuates the goals of the ESA, it is still a flawed interpretation of the Act because it allows the Secretary of the Interior to administer the ESA in such a way that is inconsistent with the Act’s separate goals of species survival and species recovery.
* Managing Editor, American University Law Review, Volume 72; J.D. Candidate, May 2023, American University Washington College of Law; B.A., Psychology, 2017, Loyola Marymount University. The list of people I would like to thank spans longer than I could possibly fit here. Thank you to Professor William Snape, whose advice made this Comment a reality, and to my family and friends for their continued support. I am grateful to the entire Law Review staff, with special thanks to Laura Powell and Felipe Rigaudeau-Lopez for their editorial assistance. Finally, I would like to thank my cat, Theodore, whose emotional support provided great comfort throughout the writing process.