Quantcast
Science
Young Florida panthers, one of the most endangered species in the U.S. according to the Center for Biological Diversity. USFWS

9,000+ Scientists Defend Endangered Species Act in Letter to Trump Administration

Thousands of scientists have signed two letters opposing changes to the Endangered Species Act proposed by the Trump administration that critics say would weaken protections in favor of developers, Reuters reported Monday.

The proposed changes were announced by the Interior and Commerce Departments in July, and include axing the "blanket rule' granting threatened species the same protections as endangered species and removing language telling officials not to consider economic impacts when listing a species.


"If enacted, these rules will be an absolute disaster for efforts to save species from extinction," said Dr. Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke professor of conservation ecology at Duke University in a Center for Biological Diversity press release announcing one of the letters. "With humanity's footprint ever growing and climate change looming, we need the Endangered Species Act more than ever. These rule changes are 180 degrees in the wrong direction."

Pimm was one of 273 conservation scientists to sign a letter Monday addressed to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke critiquing three proposed changes: the removal of the "blanket rule," the permitting of economic considerations when deciding whether to protecting species, and changes making it harder to preserve critical habitat for vulnerable species.

The scientists opposed a new definition of "adverse modification" to "critical habitat" that would limit the definition to "alteration that appreciably diminishes the value of critical habitat as a whole for the conservation of a listed species."

"The definition will allow activities to destroy or modify critical habitat so long as they don't affect 'the whole' of critical habitat, which particularly for species with large ranges will allow most if not all destructive actions to move forward," the scientists wrote.

Habitat destruction is the leading cause of harm to endangered species, the scientists said.

They also opposed a rule that would not designate critical habitat for species if the leading cause of threat is climate change, disease or another factor not directly related to habitat destruction.

"Species facing such intractable threats as climate change or disease, need habitat protection to ensure that those places where they are managing to survive in the face of threats are not destroyed and to provide habitat for species migration in response to climate change driven habitat changes," they wrote.

The 273 conservation scientists were joined in their efforts by three agencies representing 9,000 biologists, who sent a separate letter to Zinke and Ross Monday opposing the changes, Reuters reported.

The letters come as the 60-day public comment period on the proposed changes concluded, Reuters said.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
The swelling barrier lake after a landslide forced evacuations along the Yarlung Zangbo River. YouTube screenshot / CCTV+

6,000 Evacuated After Tibet Landslide

Six thousand people have been evacuated after a landslide in Tibet Wednesday blocked a river that flows downstream into India, creating a lake that could cause major flooding in the subcontinent once the debris is cleared, The Associated Press reported.

Chinese emergency officials announced the evacuations Thursday. The landslide impacted a village in Menling County, but no one was killed or injured, Chinese officials said.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Carbon Capture: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Climate Change

By Daniel Ross

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report lays out a rather grim set of observations, predictions and warnings. Perhaps the biggest takeaway? That the world cannot warm more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) over pre-industrial levels without significant impacts.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Fossil-fueled power plant. glasseyes view...up&away / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Trump Team Again Asks SCOTUS to Stop Youth Climate Case as Trial Nears

Once again, the Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a groundbreaking constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs, just over a week before the case heads to trial in Eugene, Oregon.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice filed a second "writ of mandamus" petition— an uncommonly used legal maneuver—and application for stay with the high court.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Mark Miller Photos / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Trump White House Pushes to Let Minors Spray Brain-Damaging Pesticides on Farms

The White House's just-released list of planned environmental and public health rollbacks includes letting high-school-age kids spray brain-damaging pesticides on commercial farms.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. William Campbell / Corbis / Getty Images

Interior Department Watchdog: Zinke Family Travel Violated Department Policies

The internal watchdog of the Department of the Interior (DOI) concluded Thursday that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated department travel policies by having his family members ride in government vehicles, The Hill reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Air pollution in Beijing. DuKai photographer / Getty Images

Beijing Air Pollution Mystery Could Be Solved, Scientists Say

More than one million people die each year in China from particulate matter air pollution, but despite 15 years and billions of dollars of efforts to clean up the country's air, dangerous winter smog persists.

Now, an international team of scientists think they have discovered the reason why: The instruments used to measure Beijing's particulate matter pollution were misinterpreting their readings.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Workers collect salt crystals on Aug. 22 at Aigues-Mortes where the salt pans cover 10,000 hectares. PASCAL GUYOT / AFP / Getty Images

90% of Table Salt Is Contaminated With Microplastics

By Julia Conley

A year after researchers at a New York university discovered microplastics present in sea salt thanks to widespread plastic pollution, researchers in South Korea set out to find out how pervasive the problem is—and found that 90 percent of salt brands commonly used in homes around the world contain the tiny pieces of plastic.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Japan's cherry blossoms are unexpectedly blooming this autumn. Coniferconifer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming Across Japan. It's October.

Each year, Japan's iconic cherry blossoms herald the arrival of spring. But after a bout of extreme weather, blooms are being reported several months early.

The Japanese weather site Weathernews said it had received more than 350 reports of blossoms throughout the country. The flowers usually appear in March or April.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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