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Trump overhauling enforcement of Endangered Species Act

Trump overhauling enforcement of Endangered Species Act

Federal officials have announced changes to the Endangered Species Act, which could have big impacts on wildlife and habitat throughout our region. The tweak, according to the Times, could lead to disregarding climate science as part of decision-making to protect endangered species.

The new rule removes blanket protections for "threatened" wildlife.

The Endangered Species Act bans harassing, hurting or capturing species deemed endangered, and it requires agencies to enact rules created to protect their ecosystems.

The change also eliminates "critical habitat" protections for some endangered species and ends requirements that other agencies "funding, authorizing or conducting an activity" first consult with FWS to make sure said activity does not harm protected wildlife. That animal depends on spring snowpack for mating.

The Department of Interior says its aim is to increase clarity, consistency and efficiency.

"As a lobbyist and lawyer, Bernhardt sued the Interior Department over Endangered Species Act implementation", wrote Center for Western Priorities Executive Director Jennifer Rokala in a statement.

The Associated Press reported that conservation organizations and attorney generals from at least ten states, including Massachusetts, California, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, have threatened to take legal action against the proposed revisions. Some of these changes include economic costs being considered when determining if a species should be protected and another weakens already existing protections of threatened groups.

Margaret Everson, Fish and Wildlife's principal director, said in her remarks that the regulations will "return management of recovered species to the states".

More news: Hong Kong airport cancels all departing flights over protests

The move was widely criticized by conservation groups and drew a swift response from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who joined her counterpart in California in announcing that they meant to challenge the rules in court.

The Endangered Species Act, which Republican President Richard Nixon signed into law in 1973, protects more than 1,600 plant and animals species today, and is credited with saving the California condor, the Florida manatee, the gray whale and grizzly bear among others. In other words, endangered species often conflict with development and when they do the rule goes in favor of the species, that would change.

"It looks like they're trying to say, if you are a sea- ice dependent species we're not going to protect that sea ice habitat as critical habitat", she said.

For 30 years, Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) has lead the fight to prevent marine animals from going extinct, and is now suing the Trump administration for permitting a new longline fishery in the Pacific Ocean despite a federal ban on longline gear created in 2004 to protect sea turtles.

Numerous changes the Trump administration is rolling out address shared administrative concerns about the act, says Jake Li, the director for biodiversity at the Environmental Policy Innovation Center.

Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife, said the administration is simply trying to make the process more efficient. "We'll see the Trump administration in court about it", Drew Caputo, a vice president of litigation for the conservation advocacy group Earthjustice. But, "having the Endangered Species Act gives us the opportunity to participate in that recovery".

Republican lawmakers and industry groups celebrated the revisions, some of the broadest changes in the way the act is applied in its almost 50-year history. "We must modernize the Endangered Species Act in a way that empowers states, promotes the recovery of species, and allows local economies to thrive".


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