Changes To Environmental Species Act Could Impact Regional Wildlife

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The Endangered Species Act was passed by Congress in 1973 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

The regulatory revisions, according to the department, "clarify that the standards for delisting and reclassification of a species consider the same five statutory factors as the listing of a species in the first place".

"This effort to gut protections for endangered and threatened species has the same two features of most Trump administration actions: it's a gift to industry, and it's illegal", Drew Caputo, Earthjustice vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife and oceans, said in a statement.

But Brett Hartl, a government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity conservation group, contended any such price tag would be inflated, and "an invitation for political interference" in the decision whether to save a species.

The new rule removes blanket protections for "threatened" wildlife.

Since it was enacted, the Endangered Species Act has aided in the survival of 99 percent of all listed species, according to Markey's office.

It took just 30 minutes for Trump administration officials to announce dramatic steps to undermine more than 45 years of successful conservation policy under the Endangered Species Act.

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Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young said he is the only now serving member of Congress who voted for the original Endangered Species Act of 1973 and that the courts since then "have turned it into a bureaucratic nightmare that could not have been anticipated". But who could imagine the Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, who is a former fossil fuel lobbyist, and who would oversee many of these listing decisions, wanting that?

"Nothing in here in my view is a radical change for how we have been consulting and listing species for the last decade or so", Frazer said. "Instead of looking for solutions to the global extinction crisis that threatens up to one million plant and animal species, this administration has chose to place arbitrary and unlawful restrictions on the very federal regulators that Congress has tasked with protecting them".

Others said the new rules would unnecessarily burden the US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, forcing them to do irrelevant economic analyses.

In the face of such criticism, the administration argued the changes will make regulation more efficient and less burdensome while preserving protections for wildlife. This disregards the cumulative "death-by-a-thousand-cuts" process that is the most common way wildlife declines toward extinction. The new rules will limit wildlife agencies' ability to designate critical habitat in unoccupied areas needed for recovery.

The action, which expands the administration's rewrite of USA environmental laws, is the latest that targets protections, including for water, air and public lands. The rollbacks will also preclude designation of critical habitat for areas where species need to move to avoid climate impacts.

"The regulations" take a wrecking ball to one of our oldest and most effective environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act", Sen. Wyoming US Senator John Barrasso calls the changes a good start, but he wants to reform the law. "They don't do well with any human disturbance of their habitat, but that isn't economically viable in today's world, their habitat has lots of human uses that we're not going to give up". "We've seen before how the Act can be abused by environmental activist agendas, but by increasing transparency and ending the practice of one-size-fits-all reactions, we can end their sue [sic] and settle tactics while promoting responsible conservation without heavy-handed government intervention".

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