Trump “ramming wrecking ball” into wildlife protection laws

Much as I would like to make this website a Trump-free zone to do so is obviously impossible while he remains, perhaps, the single most dangerous person on the planet in environmental terms. This is his latest calamitous plan. Editor

The endangered Species Act (ESA)—is the law that in the USA that has protected endangered and threatened species for almost half a century.

Two agencies govern the ESA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The ESA currently protects more than 1,600 plants and animals at risk of extinction, or at risk of becoming endangered.

In the four decades-plus since it was enacted, the law has kept dozens of iconic species from being wiped off the face of the Earth.

Republican lawmakers have aimed to curb the reach of the ESA for years, claiming it hurts businesses, especially mining, drilling and logging.

The Trump administration has announced significant changes to the Endangered Species Act that put plants and animals across America at risk.

If the proposals are adopted they would end the current blanket rule of automatically providing future “threatened” species with the same protections given to endangered species. Instead new protections for threatened plants and animals would be determined by “the species’ individual conservation needs.” Trump’s plan would evaluate threatened species on a case-by-case basis.

And if implemented the economic impact of protecting a species could be taken into account by officials when enforcing the ESA. Businesses could be given the go-ahead to develop near protected habitats.

Wildlife officials would also be allowed to place less emphasis on long-term threats by limiting the scope of risk in the “foreseeable future”.  In interpreting the definition of “foreseeable future” ESA officials would in future have to take into account the probability  that conditions posing a threat of extinction would occur.

Jake Bullinger, writing in The Guardian explains:

“In addition to case-by-case evaluations, wildlife officials would place less emphasis on long-term threats by limiting the scope of risk in the “foreseeable future”, as the ESA dictates. Under Barack Obama, managers took this term liberally and, for instance, listed arctic ringed seals because of the threat climate change poses over the coming decades to their icy habitat. But Trump’s proposed changes mean that officials would only take action if future threats and species’ responses to those threats were deemed probable. Under an administration that disputes climate science, this doesn’t bode well for creatures at risk in a warming world.”

Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. ““These proposals would slam a wrecking ball into the most crucial protections for our most endangered wildlife. If these regulations had been in place in the 1970s, the bald eagle and the gray whale would be extinct today. If they’re finalized now, Zinke will go down in history as the extinction secretary.”



Here are 10 plants and animals that might have gone extinct without the Endangered Species Act | Popular Science

What are Donald Trump’s policies on climate change and other environmental issues? | Friends of the Earth

Trump’s environmental policies could lead to an extra 80,000 deaths per decade, say Harvard scientists | The Verge

The 12 biggest changes Trump has made to U.S. environmental policy | Vice News