Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Trump Administration Rule Proposal Would Further Undermine Endangered Species Act

Animals
Trump Administration Rule Proposal Would Further Undermine Endangered Species Act
Whooping cranes fly in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Alabama. There were only 48 whooping cranes in the country when the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, and thanks to the law's protections there are now over 600. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Eoin Higgins

Environmental groups on Friday condemned the announcement of a new rule proposed by President Donald Trump that would further weaken the Endangered Species Act by making it easier to destroy habitats vulnerable species rely on for survival.


"President Trump is back for another whack at another key environmental law," said Oceana senior federal policy director Lara Levison.

At issue is a planned rule change to the Endangered Species Act, or ESA, from the Department of Fish and Wildlife that would redefine "habitat" as "areas with existing attributes that have the capacity to support individuals of the species," precluding the restoration and repair of historical habitats that could, with time, support endangered species.

"The Trump administration won't be satisfied until it removes all protections for the natural world, including clean air and water, land, and now even habitat for our most vulnerable wildlife," Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

As the Center for Biological Diversity explained:

The definition stems from a 2018 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that said the Service needed to define the term habitat in relation to the highly endangered dusky gopher frog. The frog survives in one ephemeral pond in Mississippi. Recognizing that to secure the frog would require recovering it in additional areas, the Service designated an area in Louisiana that had the ephemeral ponds the frog requires. However, this area would need forest restoration to provide high-quality habitat.

Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, the landowner, and Pacific Legal Foundation, a private-property advocacy group, challenged the designation, resulting in today's definition and the frog losing habitat protection in Louisiana.

"This will have real life-and-death consequences for some of our nation's most vulnerable species," said Greenwald.

Oceana's Levison concurred with Greenwald's bleak assessment.

"The president's newly proposed rules will make it even harder to save species from extinction," she said. "The ESA protects threatened and endangered species like sea turtles and the North Atlantic right whale, as well as the habitats they depend on, but the draft rule released today reduces these protections."

Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute, called on the president and the administration to do the right thing for the planet by saving "an effective and popular law that serves as the last line of defense for rare species facing extinction."

"At a time of unprecedented wildlife extinction and habitat destruction, we should be working to strengthen — not weaken — the Endangered Species Act," said Liss.

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

Marsh Creek in north-central California is the site of restoration project that will increase residents' access to their river. Amy Merrill

By Katy Neusteter

The Biden-Harris transition team identified COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change as its top priorities. Rivers are the through-line linking all of them. The fact is, healthy rivers can no longer be separated into the "nice-to-have" column of environmental progress. Rivers and streams provide more than 60 percent of our drinking water — and a clear path toward public health, a strong economy, a more just society and greater resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A Brood X cicada in 2004. Pmjacoby / CC BY-SA 3.0

Fifteen states are in for an unusually noisy spring.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A creative depiction of bigfoot in a forest. Nisian Hughes / Stone / Getty Images

Deep in the woods, a hairy, ape-like man is said to be living a quiet and secluded life. While some deny the creature's existence, others spend their lives trying to prove it.

Read More Show Less
President of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer holds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on Jan. 30, 2020. Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

By Jon Queally

Noted author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was among the first to celebrate word that the president of the European Investment Bank on Wednesday openly declared, "To put it mildly, gas is over" — an admission that squares with what climate experts and economists have been saying for years if not decades.

Read More Show Less

A dwarf giraffe is seen in Uganda, Africa. Dr. Michael Brown, GCF

Nine feet tall is gigantic by human standards, but when researcher and conservationist Michael Brown spotted a giraffe in Uganda's Murchison Falls National Park that measured nine feet, four inches, he was shocked.

Read More Show Less