Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

President Trump rule to change enforcement of Endangered Species Act

Trump Endangered Species President Trump changes Endangered Species Act protections
Patty Aguilar | 12 August, 2019, 23:25

"By gutting key components of the Endangered Species Act, one of our country's most successful environmental laws, the Trump Administration is putting our most imperiled species and our vibrant local tourism and recreation industries at risk", said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

The Trump administration on Monday rolled out some of the broadest changes in decades to enforcement of the landmark Endangered Species Act, allowing the government to put an economic cost on saving a species and other changes critics contend could speed extinction for some struggling plants and animals. "The Act's effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation", U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement.

The 1970s-era Act is credited with bringing back from the brink of extinction species such as bald eagles, gray whales and grizzly bears, but the law has always been a source of frustration for drillers, miners and other industries because new listings can put vast swaths of land off limits to development. "An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation".

"We'll be reviewing these changes today, but I can promise you that there is nothing in these new regulations that helps protect threatened and endangered species", said Kristen Boyles, an Earthjustice attorney.

The changes were announced by the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

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Some lawmakers from Western states and free market conservation groups applauded the changes, seeing them as helping states and landowners.

"The regulations" take a wrecking ball to one of our oldest and most effective environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act", Sen. "We'll see the Trump administration in court about it".

Conservation groups and attorneys general of several states including California and MA had been critical of the changes first proposed previous year, saying the were in violation of the goal of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

But environmental groups said the overhaul comes at time when United Nations scientists are warning that up to 1 million plant and animal species are facing an "imminent risk" of extinction because of human activity.

As the New York Times reported, the Trump administration's rollbacks will "very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live". With logging and other human activities and predators driving down the numbers of the south Selkirk caribou, Canadian officials captured and penned the last surviving members of the species over the winter and pinned them up for their protection. Officials said those considerations would not affect listing decisions. "It was a tough pill to swallow". The law is credited with saving several unique species native to the United States, including the bald eagle.

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