It’s no secret that endangered species around the globe continue to face extinction, and the dilemma could get worse with the recent revamp of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On August 12, the Trump administration unveiled new changes to the ESA, which was first passed in 1973. The new ESA rules will change how federal agencies implement portions of the conservation law, making it easier to remove recovered species from the protected list and allow for more drilling and development.
First proposed in July 2018, the changes will allow federal agencies to weigh economic factors into decisions on assigning species protections. The law previously prohibited this. The administration believes the new changes will “modernize” and “improve” the law, lifting regulatory burdens while continuing to protect species.
Karen Budd-Falen, the Interior Department’s deputy solicitor for fish, wildlife and parks, said the changes will “ensure transparency” in the ESA process and “provide regulatory assurances and protection for both endangered species and the businesses that rely on the use of federal and private land.”
However, environmentalists have a different view and believe the new rules only help industry and will continue hurting ecosystems, ultimately resulting in their downfall. Alarmingly, a three-year United Nations study found up to 1 million species wildlife are at risk of extinction by human actions if current trends continue. The changes to the ESA could speed up the process.
Related: 1 million species are at risk of extinction, says new UN report
Today, the ESA protects more than 1,600 plants and animals, as well as the habitats important to their survival, according to one report. The ESA has prevented 99 percent of listed species from becoming extinct.
“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,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, an ex-oil and gas lobbyist, said. “The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra promised to battle the new ESA changes in court.
“I know that gutting the Endangered Species Act sounds like plan from a cartoon villain, not the work of the president of the United States,” Healey said during a call with journalists. “But unfortunately, that’s what we’re dealing with today.”
Via Huffington Post
Image via Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren