In July, the Trump Administration issued new guidelines making it more difficult to grant protections under the Endangered Species Act. At the same time, Congress unveiled a package of nine bills to “modernize” the 45-year-old law that currently protects more than 1,600 species and has saved an estimated 227 species from extinction, according to the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity.
Together, these changes would end the extension of endangered species’ protections for species listed as “threatened” and instead decide on a case-by-case basis; cause officials to take economic factors into account when deciding whether to list a species instead of purely scientific factors; allows the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to ignore scientific data when deciding whether to designate an area as critical habitat; and generally make it easier to advance projects like oil drilling, logging and fracked gas pipelines through protected habitat, to name a few.
Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told Democracy Now! that the proposal is “the most comprehensive, devastating attempt to destroy this law we’ve seen in this entire time.” — By Kevin Ridder