Trump aims to end automatic protections for some threatened species

Federico Mansilla
Julio 22, 2018

The automatic protection policy of threatened and endangered plants and animals is in danger of being overturned by the Trump administration, according to NBC News.

The proposal, announced Thursday by the Interior and Commerce departments, would make it easier to remove animals from protected status and weaken rules that prevent federal agencies from harming the animals and their habitats.

"These rules will be very protective", said U.S. Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, adding that the changes also will reduce the "conflict and uncertainty" associated with many protected species.

Republicans say the law enacted 45 years ago to protect plants and animals in decline is cumbersome and restricts economic development. Several proposed changes deal with procedures for listing species, recovery and designating critical habitat.

The changes are in keeping with a broader pattern of regulatory moves in the Trump administration aimed at reducing cost and other burdens for businesses, particularly the energy business.

Republican opposition to the Endangered Species Act is not shared by the public, which supports the law by a roughly four to one margin. But the definition of "foreseeable future" has been vague.

"Unfortunately, the sweeping changes being proposed by the Trump administration include provisions that would undercut the effectiveness of the ESA and put species at risk of extinction", Clark said.

Trump aims to end automatic protections for some threatened species
Trump aims to end automatic protections for some threatened species

Going forward, the Department of Interior plans to work with the Commerce Department to jointly determine issues, including whether land now unoccupied by a threatened species deserves to be classified as a critical habitat - meaning one that deserves protection.

Less than a month into his presidency, the Senate held a hearing to discuss ways to "modernize the Endangered Species Act", which included gripes about how the law kills jobs, violates states' rights, and is unfair to landowners.

Endangered species are now defined as "in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range", while threatened species are likely to become in danger of extinction within the "foreseeable future".

The monarch butterfly is one of several species now being considered for protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. He described it as "where the rubber meets the road of the Endangered Species Act", and said he expected the process to be improved.

From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.

The proposals are now open for a 60-day public comment period, and may become law by year's end.

There are hundreds of animal species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, including the Yosemite toad, the piping plover and the northern spotted owl.

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