The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the eastern black rail, a small wetlands bird, to be threatened, Kallanish Energy reports.
That designation provides a limited layer of federal protection for the elusive bird, but the federal agency stopped short of protecting coastal habitat for the bird.
It was a case that was being closely watched by the U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry along the Gulf of Mexico because LNG export terminals are being developed in coastal freshwater marshes in Texas and Louisiana where the bird is found.
Its designation could have impacts on LNG projects that are in development. Certain mitigation steps could be required.
The Eastern black rail is imperiled by habitat loss, sea level rise and increased storms associated with climate change.
Its population had dropped by 90% in some coastal areas in recent years.
The rare and secretive bird could be extinct by 2068, the federal agency has said.
Last year, two environmental groups had sued the Trump administration over its failure to protect the Eastern black rail.
The Center for Biological Diversity had petitioned in 2010 to protect the bird under federal law.
Fish and Wildlife had proposed the threatened status in 2018 but took no action.
The designation is one of two available under the federal Endangered Species Act: threatened or endangered species where the animals are even more at-risk.
“After a decade of being ignored, these shy, fascinating birds are finally getting some much-needed protections,” said Stephanie Kurose of the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement.
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