U.S. proposes rollback of endangered species protections

Christopher Davidson
July 22, 2018

He dismissed concerns that the changes were proposed in an effort to help the oil and gas industry.

Of the many proposed changes, SCI generally supports the proposals to provide more flexibility to the management and recovery of threatened species and to modify how the agency establishes the "foreseeable future" when making threatened listing decisions.

Gutting the law that has protected the bald eagle, the American crocodile, the gray wolf, and countless other animals from extinction over the past four decades, the Trump administration gave its latest handout to corporate interests on Thursday when it unveiled sweeping changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

"These regulations are the heart of how the Endangered Species Act is implemented". The Center for Biological Diversity calls the proposals a rollback that aims a "wrecking ball" at the law.

The New York Times covered the proposals, along with Washington Post, Bloomberg News and E&E News.

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"The Trump administration's determination to dismantle bedrock environmental protections, turn a blind eye to science, and roll over for special interests apparently knows no bounds", Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, said in a news release a day after the U.S. Department of the Interior announced the proposed revisions.

Under one proposal, the FWS would decide on a species-by-species basis what, if any, ESA prohibitions would apply to each species listed as threatened. "But instead of continuing the hard work needed to conserve a healthy and vibrant environment for our kids and grandkids, this administration is working to further imperil the more than 1,600 threatened and endangered species in the country today".

The government also seeks to narrow the definition of threatened species. The ESA defines a threatened species as one that is likely to become an endangered species within the "foreseeable future". The government "will avoid speculating as to what is hypothetically possible", according to a summary of the proposals. "This change will not affect the protections for species now listed as threatened, but will ensure that species listed as threatened in the future receive the protections tailored to the species' individual conservation needs", said the Fish and Wildlife Service in a statement. Supporters say the change is necessary to spur development and jobs.

The government will continue to make determinations based exclusively on biological considerations, but "there may be circumstances where referencing economic, or other impacts may be informative to the public", according to the proposal summary.

Those bills included a measure by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, to restrict designation of critical habitat on limited water infrastructure areas, and another by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, that would allow local and private studies to be submitted as evidence to remove a species from the endangered list. Now some areas are considered a habitat important for recovery even if they are not occupied by a threatened species.

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