Green Activists Up in Arms over Changes to Endangered Species Act

‘An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation…’

Radical activists supported by Earthjustice have fought the Trump administration on projects like the North Dakota pipeline. / IMAGE: TRT World
via Youtube

(AFP) President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday finalized rollbacks to key provisions of the Endangered Species Act, which left-wing activists have used to advance a litany of lawsuits, from delaying the southern border wall, to preventing energy exploration, to barring private citizens from selling or developing their own land.

The changes include removing a rule that automatically conveys the same protections to threatened species and endangered species, and striking language that says economic considerations should play no part in making determinations on how wildlife is listed.

“The revisions finalized with this rulemaking fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Environmental activist groups reacted angrily, however, claiming the rollbacks would pave the way for the gradual destruction of a listed species’ habitat.

“This effort to gut protections for endangered and threatened species has the same two features of most Trump administration actions: it’s a gift to industry, and it’s illegal,” said Drew Caputo of non-profit Earthjustice. “We’ll see the Trump administration in court.”

Species like the gray wolf saw their population decimated in the early 20th century, but staged a remarkable comeback thanks to the law—which was signed by former Republican president Richard Nixon in 1973—and are now legally hunted in the Northern Rockies.

Similarly, there are today some 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles, the national symbol of the US, from a low of 417 in 1963.

Characterizing the amendments as improvements, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the refinements in the wide-sweeping policies will not only protect those species that are critically endangered, but in fact will devote more resources to them by eliminating from the list those that do not face danger of extinction.

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal—recovery of our rarest species,” Bernhardt said.

It will also prevent litigious groups like Earthjustice from drawing department resources away from their intended purpose while forcing them to defend specious, politically motivated lawsuits that don’t actually impact any endangered species.

“An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation,”  Bernhardt said.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has targeted more than 80 Obama-era environmental and health regulations that created unnecessary regulatory burdens on business.

Ironically, judges have disallowed some of the regulation rollbacks claiming that the Trump administration overstepped its authority—even as his predecessor imposed them the very same way through executive and administrative fiats.

Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.