The Trump administration on Monday announced a controversial rollback of decades-long protections for endangered species in the United States, including allowing economic factors to be weighed before adding an animal to the list.
It was gathered that the Interior Department regulations would dramatically scale back America’s landmark conservation law, limiting protections for threatened species, how factors like climate change can be factored in listing decisions and the review process used before projects are approved on their habitat.
“It means that in all likelihood that the federal government itself and individuals will be damaging the habitat and likely increase the timetable and likelihood of a species going extinct,” David Hayes, executive director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center and a former deputy of Interior, said in a previous interview with The Hill.
The Endangered Species Act, with the revised stance of the Trump government, will no longer offer the same protections for threatened species — those at risk of becoming extinct in the foreseeable future–as those that are already endangered.
“These changes crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife,” Noah Greenwald, the Center for Biological Diversity’s endangered species director, said in a statement.
Monday’s rule finalizes an earlier proposal from the Interior Department and prompted threats of lawsuits from many environmental groups who say the changes will gut the law.
The Endangered Species Act, first passed in 1973, is considered a success globally, surpassing protections for flora and fauna in many other countries. Environmentalists see it as one of America’s premier environmental laws.
Interior described the new regulation as a modernization of the act “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century,” the agency said in a press release.
But environmentalists argue many of Interior’s changes will weaken protections for threatened and endangered species.