Eight Democratic state attorneys general sued the Trump administration Wednesday to try to overturn a policy that repealed certain protections for migratory birds.
At issue is a December 2017 legal memo, in which Daniel Jorjani, the Interior Department’s principal deputy assistant solicitor, said the agency would no longer punish people or companies for harming or killing birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in “incidental” ways.
Jorjani’s policy repealed a January 2017 memo by the Obama administration that said incidental harms would be prosecuted. The Obama-era policy was opposed by numerous industries like oil refineries and wind energy companies.
The attorneys general, led by New York, say the Trump policy also overturned years of precedent regarding the law's enforcement, in addition to the plain meaning of the law.
“In yet another giveaway to special interests at the expense of our states, the Trump administration has gutted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act — eliminating longstanding prohibitions on injuring or killing over 300 species of migratory birds that provide critical ecological, scientific, and economic value to New York,” New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) said in a statement.
The attorneys general, which represent California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and Oregon, filed their case in the Manhattan-based District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Conservation groups led by the National Audubon Society already sued in May, in the same court, to overturn the Trump policy. The Justice Department, representing Interior, said it plans to ask the court to dismiss the case.