Trump administration wants to undoEndangered Species Act provisions

22 Juillet, 2018, 04:37 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • A four-month old white lion cub is presented to the press at the Altiplano zoo in Tlaxcala Mexico

The proposed changes include potential limits on the designation of "critical habitat" for imperiled plants and animals; an end to a regulatory provision that gives threatened plants and animals the same protections as species at greater risk of extinction; and streamlining inter-agency consultations when federal government actions could jeopardize a species.

"This proposal turns the extinction-prevention tool of the Endangered Species Act into a rubber stamp for powerful corporate interests", said Hartl.

The proposed changes also include evaluating a species' critical habitat initially only in places where it now lives, rather than including areas where it could be expected to live if its population recovered.

The law protects more than 1,600 plant and animal species.

As it stands, the term "endangered" applies to an animal or plant in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future.

"These rules will be very protective and enhance the conservation of the species", Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt said on a conference call with reporters about the changes.

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The Defense Department says in a position paper that the measure inserted into the policy bill is unnecessary. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the administration's proposals were "a good start" but indicated more work was needed. Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been under heavy scrutiny by Democrats and environmental activists alike.

The law, enacted in the 1970s, has always been a source of frustration for drillers, miners and other businesses. The Endangered Species Act (ESA), many have argued, is outdated, costly and allows for too many lawsuits from environmental organizations.

Bernhardt's proposals modify key terms originally meant to strike balanced solutions for government agencies, landowners and environmentalists to protect and restore endangered species and the natural resources they need to complete their life cycles. Even though most endangered species now occupy small fractions of their historic range, those areas would effectively be precluded from ever helping a species recover. But the definition of "foreseeable future" has been vague.

Bob Dreher, senior vice president for conservation programs at Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group, said that move puts climate change in the cross hairs. The USFW Service falls under the Interior Department.

WorldWildLife.org has created a list of animal species, organized by conservation status.

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 protection of the owl is the source of a long-running conflict between loggers and environmentalists. The Department of Interior could implement them after a 60-day public commentary period beginning Thursday.

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