Saturday, 14 December, 2019


Changes coming to The Endangered Species Act

A bald eagle is seen along the American Trail at the Smithsonian National Zoo Aug. 11 2016 in Washington D.C Changes coming to The Endangered Species Act
Bennie Garza | 13 August, 2019, 16:43

"The sweeping changes made in these new regulations, however, will diminish the effectiveness of the Act and further imperil species already on the brink of extinction". In other words, endangered species often conflict with development and when they do the rule goes in favor of the species, that would change.

Federal agencies may also begin gathering information on the economic impact of listing animals as threatened, despite the fact that the statute as passed by Congress explicitly states that science alone should determine if species should be protected.

"We'll fight the Trump administration in court to block this rewrite, which only serves the oil industry and other polluters who see endangered species as pesky inconveniences", said Greenwald.

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

"The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal - recovery of our rarest species", Bernhardt said. Instead, he said, it brings "more transparency and certainty to the public about the way we'll carry out our job".

One set of regulatory changes weaken the consultation process created to prevent harm to endangered animals and their habitats from federal agency activities. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the protections it has afforded to threatened and endangered species have been based on the best available science and commercial data. These rollbacks of the ESA are for one objective only: "more handouts to special interests that don't want to play by the rules and only want to line their pockets".

The administration will also shrink the number of habitats set aside for threatened wildlife. The majority of people in the USA agree that we need to protect endangered and threatened wildlife. Individuals have entered historic ranges in California and Colorado, but have not established breeding populations there.

The Trump administration's argument for scaling back the act rests on the idea that it's a burden to businesses.

"We also are clear that we're continuing to make listing determinations as directed by the statute exclusively on the basis of the best available scientific information and without consideration for the economic impacts", Frazer said.

Potential threats to business opportunities and other costs of listing a species [as endangered] must now be considered and shared with the public. "The consequences of climate change frequently play out over decades, so climate change will be factored in fewer times with this ruling than it would be in the current conditions". The changes essentially make it easier for corporations to argue that their economic interests are more important than animal habitats.

The Department of the Interior is changing the way the 1970s-era Endangered Species Act - credited with helping save the bald eagle, grizzly bear and others since its inception by then-President Richard Nixon - will be implemented across the country, as announced by the agency early Monday.

Now regulators can designate areas of a species' historical range or suitable but unoccupied areas as critical habitat.

The new rules shift how these critical habitat areas are prioritized. Over 95% of species protected by the ESA-including all species of sea turtle-are still with us today, and hundreds are on the path to recovery.

"This is a win for Montana and the West, and will help restore commonsense, science-based decision-making when it comes to the Endangered Species Act", Sen.

The final rule was panned by environmental groups that question Bernhardt's motives, given his past work representing oil and gas companies.

Gary Frazer, an assistant director at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told reporters that the government would adhere to the law by disclosing the costs to the public, without being a factor for the officials considering the protections. But we challenge these actions by this administration because it is necessary. Wyoming US Senator John Barrasso calls the changes a good start, but he wants to reform the law. "This Administration has the fortitude to move forward with common-sense rules that follow the law while improving species protection, despite the hyperbolic rhetoric".

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