endangered legislation
August 12, 2019

The Endangered Species Act made America's national bird great again, but the Trump administration is prepared to make significant changes to the law that helped rescue the bald eagle anyway, The New York Times reports.

The White House announced on Monday that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act, which was signed into law by former President Richard Nixon in 1973, is applied. The Times reports that the changes could clear the way for new mining, drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules would also make it more challenging to consider the effects of climate change when determining whether a species deserves protection, make it easier to remove a species from the list, and weaken protections for threatened species.

Another major tweak is the modification of language that prohibits economic factors when deciding a species' fate. Currently, determinations must be made solely on science. "There can be economic costs to protecting endangered species," said Drew Caputo, the vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife, and oceans at Earthjustice. But he added that focusing on short-term economic costs could lead to "a whole lot more extinct species."

Republicans have long considered the regulations too burdensome and punitive, but with the Democrats in control of the House any legislation would have little chance of passing, the Times reports. The Trump administration's revisions could be a way around that roadblock.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have both said that the changes will not effect the country's protection and recovery goals. "The Act's effectiveness rests on clear, consistent, and efficient implementation," said Bernhardt. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

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