On August 12, the Trump administration made crucial changes to the Endangered Species Act, which – if implemented next month – will affect both humans and wildlife. Critics of the new measures announced by the Fish and Wildlife Service say the changes are weakening protection for many species and potentially opening huge areas of land for oil and gas development, even while carbon dioxide emissions continue to heat the planet.
The Endangered Species Act was founded in 1973 under President Nixon with two-part support to protect wildlife that is at risk of extinction due to human activity. Since then, credit has been credited with preventing the eradication of 99 percent of the 1,650 species it has guarded. The latest legislative changes endanger the survival of many species, conservationists say.
“The law is extremely successful and has contributed to the restoration of species such as the bald eagle over the past 40 years. And so we have to make it work instead of paralyzing it, "said Kirin Kennedy, deputy legislative director for public land and wildlife protection at Sierra Club. The edge.
The changes make it harder to claim that climate change poses a risk to the survival of a species, which is particularly alarming given the recent United Nations report they discovered that up to a million species are becoming extinct thanks to human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels. Another change is weakening protection for species that are considered endangered in the future – the step below is being threatened. Currently, all endangered species have virtually the same protection as endangered species under the law. But soon, the protection for each endangered species listed in the future could be assessed case by case instead. In addition, supervisors can now consider how much it can cost to protect a species if decisions are made about the list.
But there are also branches for people and the planet if the Endangered Species Act is weakened. Making it easier to kick species from the list of officially endangered and endangered animals in the wild will make land that was once forbidden a fair game for digging up more fossil fuels that contribute to pollution and climate change.
Critics of the law have long claimed that it hinders economic development by excluding industry from resource-rich places where coincidentally endangered or endangered species live. The American Petroleum Institute said in a statement that it "welcomed& # 39; The new changes. US Trade Minister Wilbur Ross said in another statement, "The revisions completed with these regulations are fully in line with the President's mandate to relieve the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing the protection and recovery goals of our kind."
Supporters of the environment, including organizations such as the Sierra Club and the governor of the state of Jay Inslee (who has positioned himself as the climate candidate in the Democratic primary race), meanwhile, singing another tune.
"The weakening of the #EndangeredSpecies Act is about making mines to coal easier and drilling for oil," Inslee tweeted Monday. "So this is not only bad for the bald eagle or the grizzly bear – it is bad for our children and their health."
Told Kirin Kennedy from Sierra Club The edge, “The lack of clean air due to pollution from extractive industries also means a lack of clean air for human populations. So what the Endangered Species Act does when offering protection to wildlife has an upstream impact on humans. "
Some people will feel that impact sooner than others. "Indigenous people were at the forefront of the struggle to preserve (Endangered Species Act) protection for the sacred grizzly bear," said Tom Rodgers, vice president of the Global Indigenous Council and senior advisor to the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council. The edge in an email. Attempts to remove species prematurely from the list of endangered and endangered species, "Rodger says are" Trojan horses "for tribal sovereignty, treaty rights and religious freedoms."
The Blackfoot Confederacy, including Piikani Nation, the Blackfeet Nation, the Siksika Nation and the Blood Tribe, have fought a decade-long battle to protect Yellowstone grizzly bears under the Endangered Species Act. Earlier this summer they were successful: the US Fish and Wildlife Service had to comply with the orders of a judge restore grizzly bears as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
They avoided a bullet by defeating the recently announced rule change – the endangered grizzly bears will still get the most protection available under the current Endangered Species Act. But other species mentioned in the future may be affected by the controversial new measure. The change of rules is already planned to be challenged in court by the Advocates General of California and Massachusetts. If those challenges continue, they would join a long list of other environmental challenges in Trump administration policies that are paving their way through the courts, including a massive lawsuit that involves the rollback of the Obama era plan to reduce emissions of power stations, challenged. Kennedy also tells The edge that the Sierra Club is considering its legal options to defend the Endangered Species Act.
“Our dear animals and ecosystems are in critical danger. By reversing the Endangered Species Act, the Trump administration would put a nail in our coffin – all to increase the profits of those who endanger these species in the first place, "said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a press release. "We are ready to fight to preserve this important law – the species with whom we share this planet and on which we depend does not deserve less."