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Nevada joins federal lawsuit over rules expanding definition of ‘critical habitat’

Nevada has joined 17 other states in a lawsuit challenging new federal rules that expand the definition of “critical habitat” for endangered and threatened species.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced the filing on Wednesday.

Plaintiffs say the new rules would allow an area to be classified as a critical habitat area even if it is only a potential site for hosting endangered species and none are occupying the land.

The lawsuit was filed because of concerns that the rules will prevent land uses based on how the area may change in the future. In a potential scenario Laxalt’s office outlined, the federal government could prevent the construction of a highway through the desert because a stream may form there in the future that is critical habitat for a protected fish.

“As we have seen countless times, this administration’s novel rules reach well beyond anything Congress could have ever intended and will have adverse effects on individual states, businesses and families,” Laxalt said in a statement. “In practice, these latest rules expand federal oversight to the point that the federal government could potentially designate an entire state or even multiple states as critical habitat for certain species. I will continue to protect our state from this type of unwarranted and burdensome federal overreach.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama against the U.S. secretary of the interior, National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. secretary of commerce and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Other states that are part of the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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