Monday, August 12, 2019

Feds finalize rule reducing protection for threatened species

"Three months after a U.N. report warned that 1 million species face extinction because of human activity, the Trump administration on Monday finalized rule changes to the Endangered Species Act that make it harder to protect plants and animals whose populations are in serious decline," Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post.

Language "that required officials to rely heavily on science when considering whether to list a species as threatened or endangered regardless of economic impact was removed," Fears writes. "Potential threats to business opportunities and other costs of listing a species can now be considered and shared with the public. Officials said those considerations would not affect listing decisions."

The rule change will also allow the administration to leave open for development areas that threatened species once occupied and could at least theoretically return to. "Conservationists and some politicians decried the changes as a major rollback of the 46-year-old law credited with saving the bald eagle, grizzly bear, humpback whale, American alligator and Florida manatee from extinction," Fears reports.

"The Trump administration says the changes will make regulation more efficient and less burdensome while preserving protections for wildlife," reports Doyle Rice of USA Today. "At least 10 attorneys general joined conservation groups in protesting an early draft of the changes, saying they put more wildlife at greater risk of extinction."

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