We could have a whole separate thread on Trump's assault on the environment, but this seems like it could serve the purpose. Today, the Trump admin has significantly weakened protections for sensitive species by gutting the Endangered Species Act,
Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction.
The changes will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, would allow economic assessments to be conducted when making determinations.
The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species, a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered.
Overall, the new rules would very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.
The ESA has worked to recover many species that were on the brink, and given population and climate pressures more are under threats now than ever,
Ever since President Richard M. Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law 1973, it has been the main United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction. The peregrine falcon, the humpback whale, the Tennessee purple coneflower and the Florida manatee all would very likely have disappeared without it, scientists say.
Probably the biggest prize Trump got is bringing economic factors into listing decisions,
One of the most controversial changes removes longstanding language that prohibits the consideration of economic factors when deciding whether a species should be protected.
Under the current law, such determinations must be made solely based on science, “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of determination.”
Gary Frazer, the assistant director for endangered species with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, said that phrase had been removed for reasons of “transparency.” He said the change leaves open the possibility of conducting economic analyses for informational purposes, but that decisions about listing species would still be based exclusively on science.
Environmental groups saw a danger in that. “There can be economic costs to protecting endangered species,” said Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife and oceans at Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. But, he said, “If we make decisions based on short-term economic costs, we’re going to have a whole lot more extinct species.”
But right on the heals of that, he also has removed climate change from consideration on many levels,
The new rules also give the government significant discretion in deciding what is meant by the term “foreseeable future.” That’s a semantic change with far-reaching implications, because it enables regulators to disregard the effects of extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change that may occur several decades from now.
When questioned about that change and its implications in the era of climate change, Mr. Frazer said the agency wanted to avoid making “speculative” decisions far into the future.
The new head of the EPA must be thrilled.