Quantcast
Animals
Southern sea otter. Ron Wolf / Flickr

Proposed Rule Change Would Be 'Death Sentence' for Nearly 300 Species, Activists Warn

In all the media attention gobbled by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt, it's important to remember that Trump's appointed Department of Interior (DOI) leader Ryan Zinke is also extremely dangerous for the environment.

Before being chosen to head the DOI, Zinke was a Montana representative with a three percent environmental voting record who was especially hostile to the Endangered Species Act: He spearheaded efforts to remove protections for wolves, sage grouse and lynx, among other actions, according to Center for Biological Diversity executive director Kierán Suckling.


Under his leadership, the DOI is continuing that hostile legacy. On Monday, the department sent a proposal to the White House that would remove essential protections for almost 300 threatened species, The Center for Biological Diversity reported Wednesday.

The proposal would reverse a rule made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 1975 which grants threatened species the same protections under the Endangered Species Act as listed endangered species, unless the FWS determines those protections are unnecessary on a case-by-case basis.

"The Trump administration just issued a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species," Center for Biological Diversity Endangered Species director Noah Greenwald said in a release.

The species left vulnerable by the rule change would include southern sea otters, northern spotted owls, piping plovers, red knots, Yosemite toads, delta smelt, Santa Catalina Island foxes, gopher tortoises and manatees, according to the Center for Biological Diversity and CNN.

FWS spokesman Gavin Shire told CNN that the Center for Biological Diversity's characterization of the proposal was not accurate and that it would not overturn blanket protections, but he also refused to explain exactly what the rule change would do or to provide CNN with a copy. He said it was a "draft" and that discussing it in detail would be "premature."

Greenwald told CNN that an overhaul of protections would benefit agribusiness interests and oil companies that would no longer have to worry about protecting the threatened species' habitats.

"If these critical protections for threatened species are eliminated, Trump will go down in history as the extinction president," said Greenwald in the Center for Biological Diversity release.

The proposal was filed within days of a American-Statesman report that Susan Combs, who resisted federal Endangered Species Act restrictions as Texas comptroller, would be named acting assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, which oversees FWS. In Texas, Combs protested the listing of the dune sagebrush lizard, whose habitat coincides with Texas oil fields, and the federal government eventually heeded her request.

Combs' appointment is temporary while she awaits Senate confirmation for another DOI role as assistant secretary for policy, management and budget.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals

Beloved Bear That Recovered From Massive Wildfire Burns Found Shot Dead

Cinder, an orphaned bear cub that was severely burned but had remarkably survived after one of the worst recorded wildfires in Washington state history was found dead, wildlife officials recently confirmed to news outlets.

She was likely shot and killed in October 2017 by a hunter, according to the Methow Valley News and a Facebook post by the Idaho Black Bear Rehab, where the famous black bear was treated.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
The crew of the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise voyage into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch document plastics and other marine debris. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a soupy mix of plastics and microplastics, now twice the size of Texas, in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

Teen Vogue Joined Greenpeace at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — Here’s What They Saw

By Perry Wheeler

Throughout this year, people all over the globe united to take on plastic pollution. Greenpeace supporters have asked their local supermarkets to phase out throwaway plastics, helped us reach 3 million signatures to companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever demanding they invest in real solutions and participated in beach cleanups and brand audits to name the worst corporate plastic polluters.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Advocates Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Tell the Truth About Climate Change

By Jeremy Deaton

It has been a tough few months for climate change. In October, an international body of climate scientists declared humans have a little more than a decade to make the drastic changes needed to keep rising temperatures reasonably in check. In November, federal scientists released an equally grim assessment detailing the unprecedented floods, droughts and wildfires expected to hit the U.S. Then, this month, with the world ablaze, diplomats gathered in Poland to bicker over how much water each country should pour on their respective fires and, in some cases, whether scientists were exaggerating the size of the flames.

Keep reading... Show less
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Dirty Scheme to Make Americans Buy More Gasoline

By Rhea Suh

It's not often that an industry chieftain brags to investors about picking the pockets of American families with help from the White House.

That's what happened, though, after Big Oil schemed with the Trump administration last summer to ensure higher gasoline consumption—to the tune of $16 billion a year—and more climate-disrupting carbon pollution from our cars, vans and pickup trucks.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
The planned Liberty Project is an artificial gravel island to allow oil drilling in the Arctic. Hilcorp / BOEM

Trump Administration Sued Over Controversial Arctic Drilling Project

Conservation groups are suing the Trump administration to halt construction of a controversial oil production facility in Alaska's Beaufort Sea, the first offshore oil drilling development in federal Arctic waters.

Hilcorp Alaska received the green light from the Interior Department in October to build the Liberty Project, a nine-acre artificial drilling island and 5.6-mile underwater pipeline, which environmentalists warn could risk oil spills in the ecologically sensitive area, threaten Arctic communities and put local wildlife including polar bears at risk.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
AAron Ontiveroz / Denver Post / Getty Images

5 Everyday Products Contaminated With Plastic

However, the infiltration of plastics into our daily lives goes much deeper, making it hard to avoid this polluting material which will remain in our ecosystems for centuries to come.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Fracking waste from the Vaca Muerta shale basin in Argentina being dumped into an open air pit. Greenpeace

Indigenous Group Sues Exxon, Energy Majors Over Fracking Waste Contamination in Patagonia

A major indigenous group in the Argentine Patagonia is suing some of world's biggest oil and gas companies over illegal fracking waste dumps that put the "sensitive Patagonian environment," local wildlife and communities at risk, according to Greenpeace.

The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén filed a lawsuit against Exxon, French company Total and the Argentina-based Pan American Energy (which is partially owned by BP), AFP reported. Provincial authorities and a local fracking waste treatment company called Treater Neuquén S.A. were also named in the suit.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
A Yelp event at Rip's Malt Shop in Brooklyn, New York, which serves vegan comfort food, including plant-based proteins produced by Beyond Meat and Field Roast. Yelp Inc. / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Should Plant-Based Proteins be Called 'Meat'?

By Melissa Kravitz

Fried chicken, bacon cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza aren't uncommon to see on vegan menus—or even the meat-free freezer section of your local supermarket—but should we be calling these mock meat dishes the same names? A new Missouri law doesn't think so. The state's law, which forbids "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry," has led to a contentious ethical, legal and linguistic debate. Four organizations—Tofurky, the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Animal Legal Defense Fund—are now suing the state on the basis that not only is the law against the U.S. Constitution, but it favors meat producers for unfair market competition.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!