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Trump Administration Strips Key Provisions of the Endangered Species Act

Posted on Aug 12, 2019 in Conservation News

Today, The Trump Administration finalized its proposal to completely change the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the legislation that protects our most threatened animals and plants from extinction. The very agencies who are charged with protecting and saving these species, the Department of Interior and Department of Commerce, are now weakening the ESA and stripping the law of its bedrock provisions under the Trump Administration. The ESA has been a fundamental tool for wildlife protection and has resulted in numerous success stories including revitalizing populations of the grey wolf, the spotted owl, and the bald eagle.

Photo Courtesy of USFWS

This Proposal:

  • Removes a key provision of the 45-year old Act that would no longer economic impacts when determining whether imperiled species should be listed as threatened or endangered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Institutes a new, narrower and limited definition of whether a plant or animal is listed as threatened or endangered.
  • Makes it more difficult to list a new species for protection and easier to remove those now on the list.
  • Has the potential to make it easier for roads, pipelines and other construction projects that may have impact to endangered species to gain approval than under current rules.
  • Repeals the Section 4(d) rule which requires agencies to automatically extend protections to threatened species that mirror those of endangered species.
  • Ends the practice of extending similar protections to species regardless of whether they are listed as endangered or threatened. Protections for threatened plants and animals can now be made on a case-by-case basis.

When these proposals were first brought to light last July, Washington Wild mobilized concerned citizens to send over 580 messages to Secretary Zinke, Senators and Representatives. Washington Wild joined scores of environmental groups from all around the country in opposition of this proposal.

After this ruling to change the ESA, environmental groups and members of congress are looking at opportunities to roll back these destructive regulations including litigation and the Congressional Review Act.