Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Trump administration guts Migratory Bird Act, bars some studies from consideration in public-health rule-making

"With only two weeks left in office, the administration published a rule Tuesday that spares industries and individuals from prosecution or penalties under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act if their actions, such as development or failure to cover tar pits, results in bird deaths," Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post. "If the deaths were unintentional, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says in the rule, there will be no enforcement."

"The move, by the Department of the Interior, came a day after the Environmental Protection Agency finalized another regulation that had long been sought by fossil fuel companies and other major polluting industries: A measure that effectively bars some scientific studies from consideration when the agency is drafting public health rules," Lisa Friedman reports for The New York Times.

President-elect Joe Biden will likely overturn the policies, according to a senior official on the transition team who called the last-minute rollbacks an "unrelenting assault" on the environment, Friedman reports. However, reversing the measures won't be quick or easy. "In the case of the bird rule, conservationists and oil industry executives alike have said that was precisely what the Trump administration intended," Friedman reports. "The industry has long sought to be shielded from liability for killing birds unintentionally in oil spills, toxic waste ponds and other environmental disasters."

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