Biden administration seeks to restore migratory bird protections

FILE PHOTO: Sandhill cranes land in flooded fields to roost for the night at the Sandhill Crane Reserve near Thornton, California.

(Reuters) - The Biden administration on Monday moved to rescind a Trump administration rule that rolled back protections against the inadvertent killing of migratory birds.

The move is President Joe Biden's latest effort to swiftly roll back his predecessor's four-year legacy of energy and environmental deregulation.

In a statement, the Interior Department said it rescinded the 2017 legal opinion issued under then-President Donald Trump that reinterpreted a century-old statute, allowing companies that accidentally kill migratory birds to escape prosecution. The memo was part of Trump's broad effort to loosen regulatory restrictions on business, particularly energy development.

The opinion was formalized in a corresponding rule finalized during the last month of Trump's presidency. The department on Monday said it will issue a new rule "in the coming days" that will revoke that policy.

A federal judge last year sided with environmental groups in striking down the Trump administration's legal interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that industries had opposed as too broad.

The policy that had been in effect since the early 1970s defined an illegal “taking” under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as any action that caused the death of a protected species, whether deliberate or accidental.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Jonathan Oatis)