Monday, 20 August, 2018

Endangered Species Act Stripped of Key Provisions in Trump Proposal

A four-month old white lion cub is presented to the press at the Altiplano zoo in Tlaxcala Mexico Trump administration plan strips Endangered Species Act of key provisions
Sandra Phillips | 22 July, 2018, 04:38

The Pentagon is objecting to a defense bill's inclusion of a Republican proposal that would bar the Fish and Wildlife Service from using the Endangered Species Act to protect two chicken-like birds in the western half of the U.S.

Administration officials said the new rules would advance conservation by simplifying and improving how the landmark Endangered Species Act is used. The proposal also makes changes that speed the approval process that federal agencies are required to complete before making changes that could harm endangered species, and would weaken protections for critical habitat.

While the law is opposed by many in the logging, mining, farming and oil-drilling industries, environmentalists say they consider it sacrosanct and say changes planned by the Trump administration will likely bring lawsuits.

"Senator Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said he would fight the proposals because the Endangered Species Act is "one of our country's most popular and successful" environmental protection laws".

The agencies propose to revise the procedures for designating critical habitat by reinstating a requirement that they will first evaluate areas now occupied by the species before considering unoccupied areas.

"It essentially turns every listing of a species into a negotiation", Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity told NBC.

"This is not all good or all bad", he said.

"The Endangered Species Act is under attack because it is so effective".

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Under the proposal relating to federal consultations, impacts to critical habitat will be ignored unless they impact the entirety of an animal's habitat - ignoring the fact that "death by a thousand cuts" is the most common way wildlife declines toward extinction. Hundreds more are under consideration for protections. Then in March of 2017, Trump chose Ryan Zinke, a congressman from Montana with a long record of opposing animal protections, to serve as his Interior secretary. Threatened species are defined as those at risk of becoming endangered. Zinke also has sought to portray himself as a conservationist in the vein of President Teddy Roosevelt who will protect the nation's natural resources.

The proposal specifically targets the Endangered Species Act, which was established in 1973.

Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation to enact broad changes to the Endangered Species Act, saying it hinders economic activities while doing little to restore species.

One of the chief architects of that effort, U.S. Sen.

Numerous proposed revisions have wide-reaching implications, including for how the federal government will protect species from climate change.

Environmental and animal advocates have been waiting for this proposal since the day Trump was inaugurated.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative law firm headquartered in California, lobbied for some of the changes.

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