Trump Administration Set to Undermine Key Provisions of the Endangered Species Act
Energy, timber, and mining companies have long wished for changes to the Endangered Species Act [ESA] in order to open up more land for exploration. Previous administrations have resisted such revisions because the Act is widely popular, even with Republicans, and is credited with saving the grizzly bear, the blue whale and the bald eagle, among many other species. In fact, since its passage during the Nixon Administration, the ESA has saved more than 99 percent of the protected species from extinction. Its been so successful that it's used as a template by other nations seeking to maintain their own biodiversity.
The ESA works because it not only protects the species, but also the essential habitat of the threatened or endangered species. And that is the rub for many timber, mining and energy companies. They argue that the Act results in too much land being set aside for habitat thus reducing the available land for exploration and exploitation. These companies have many friends in the Trump Administration including Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior.
Axios: The proposed changes include:
1. "It makes it easier to remove plants and animals from the list of protected species.
2. The proposal adds regulatory hurdles to the process of designating a critical habitat.
3.The changes would no longer apply blanket critical-habitat policies, allowing for certain areas where it is not "prudent" to avoid that designation.
4. It alters the process that federal agencies must abide by to make changes that can harm endangered species."
The proposed changes will be published soon in the Federal Register and then open for public comment for 60-days. Kitty Block, the acting President and CEO of The Humane Society has promised to publish a link here for the public to weigh in on the changes,