Feds Seek To Gut 1973 Endangered Species Act

Bloomberg reports:

A decades-old environmental law credited with saving the American bald eagle from extinction would be reworked under a proposal the Trump administration announced Thursday.

Enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, which seeks to prevent plans and animals from becoming extinct, would be changed to make it is easier to remove species from the list of protected ones. The proposal also makes changes that speed the approval process that federal agencies are required to complete before making changes that could harm endangered species, and would weaken protections for critical habitat.

“We are proposing these improvements to produce the best conservation results for the species while reducing the regulatory burden on the American people,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan, said in a statement. “One thing we heard over and over again was that ESA implementation was not consistent and often times very confusing to navigate.”

From the Center for Biological Diversity:

In a massive attack on imperiled wildlife, the Trump administration announced a series of rollbacks today to the regulations implementing key provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The three proposed rules from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service would severely weaken protections for hundreds of endangered animals and plants across the country.

They would also ensure that hundreds of imperiled species awaiting protection — like the monarch butterfly and the American wolverine — either never get safeguards or face additional, extinction-threatening delays.

One set of regulatory changes would weaken the consultation process designed to prevent harm to endangered animals and their habitats from federal agency activities. A second set of changes would curtail the designation of critical habitat and weaken the listing process for imperiled species. A third regulation would gut nearly all protections for wildlife newly designated as “threatened” under the Act. The proposals are part of a broader effort by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to undercut protections for wildlife and public lands.

It appears that today’s action is separate from a similar move introduced earlier this month by GOP Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso.