Trump Overhauling Enforcement of Endangered Species Act

US government weakens application of Endangered Species Act

Although the proposed changes do not go into effect for 30 days and won't be applied to animals already classified as endangered or threatened, the World Wildlife Fund shared their concern for what the ruling could mean for the future.

Under the enforcement changes, officials for the first time will be able to publicly attach a cost to saving an animal or plant.

Administration officials hailed the reforms as balancing conservation with economic interests.

In a massive attack on imperiled wildlife, the Trump administration today finalized rollbacks to regulations implementing key provisions of the Endangered Species Act. "The Act's effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation", U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement.

Numerous changes the Trump administration is rolling out address shared administrative concerns about the act, says Jake Li, the director for biodiversity at the Environmental Policy Innovation Center.

The administration was making public a final rule overhauling the way the federal government handles protections for plants and animals at risk of extinction.

But perhaps most troubling is the removal of language that in the past prevented economic impacts from affecting whether or not a species qualified as endangered. The administration wants to consider only future factors that it deems "likely", not just possible. The law previously required regulators to rely entirely on science in their decision-making.

Gary Frazer, an assistant director at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told reporters that the government would adhere to that by disclosing the costs to the public, without being a factor for the officials considering the protections.

"It'll only go so far as we can reasonably determine that the threats - so this might be climate-induced changes in the physical environment - and the species' responses to those threats are likely".

Factoring in the cost of saving endangered species would likely have prevented other species from being listed in recent years, such as the red knot, a bird that flies through MA and will soon also be listed as a threatened species, wildlife advocates said. That's known as the "blanket 4 (d) rule".

Eliminate a rule extending the ESA's prohibition on "take" to threatened species. In 2017, TIRN joined more than 420 conservation organizations in signing a letter to Congress opposing any weakening of the Endangered Species Act. To stay within the law, separate teams would work in parallel on the listing decision and the economic analysis, officials said.

Make it harder to designate critical habitat necessary for the conservation and recovery of listed species.

Rappaport said that would "hamstring biologists from protecting habitats". Those decisions had been made in tandem in the past.

Budd-Falen is a longstanding opponent of the Endangered Species Act and public lands, whose previous roles include advocating for private-property rights and serving as attorney for the notorious Cliven Bundy family. The Act was morphed into a political weapon instead of a tool to protect wildlife.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again-once a species is gone, it's gone forever.

A bipartisan effort to increase that funding is in Congress now.

Some Senate Republicans struck an even more forceful tone. "This was illegal, and this is an administration that needs to be held accountable".

"This reduces the potential for additional regulatory burden that results from a designation when species are not present in an area", DOIs statement said.

Environmentalists were promising legal action even as they combed through the regulations' specifics.

Officials said the department will overhaul the Endangered Species Act of 1973 through various changes, which limit which animals are allowed on the endangered species list. "For animals like wolverines and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end", Greenwald said in a statement.

The Trump administration finalized its sweeping rewrite of Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations today that undermine the conservation of threatened and endangered species.

"These changes crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act's lifesaving protections for America's most vulnerable wildlife".

Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the Democratic chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said these changes will only worsen the ongoing "mass extinction".



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