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Trump administration seeks endangered species rule changes

22 July 2018

The proposal would make it easier to de-list an endangered species, and would withdraw a policy that offered the same protections for threatened species as for endangered species unless otherwise specified.

Republican opposition to the Endangered Species Act is not shared by the public, which supports the law by a roughly four to one margin.

"At the same time we hope that they ameliorate some of the unnecessary burden, conflict and uncertainty that is within our current regulatory structure", he said. "They could decide that building in a species' habitat or logging in trees where birds nest doesn't constitute harm".

The public will have 60 days to offer comments to the proposed changes before a final plan is issued.

The administration's proposals follow longstanding criticism of the Endangered Species Act by business groups and some members of Congress.

Communities are better now at addressing their own ecological issues, he said. "They have tried for a long time to weaken the law".

As it stands, the term "endangered" applies to an animal or plant in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future. But the definition of "foreseeable future" has been vague.

Numerous proposed revisions have wide-reaching implications, including for how the federal government will protect species from climate change.

"Unfortunately, the sweeping changes being proposed by the Trump administration include provisions that would undercut the effectiveness of the ESA and put species at risk of extinction", Clark said.

Rebecca Riley, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, agreed.

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"Together these rules will be very protective and enhance the conservation of the species", Bernhardt said. It has prevented 99 percent of species under its care from going extinct including the bald eagle, grizzly bear, and Florida manatee.

"We are concerned that the proposed changes will enable other considerations to influence decisions".

Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation to enact broad changes to the Endangered Species Act, saying it hinders economic activities while doing little to restore species.

Critical habitat protections for the threatened California gnatcatcher, for example, have barred development across almost 100,000 acres of largely coastal land in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties since 1993. Those states questioned the viability of climate change predictions and warned that federal protections would hurt recreation and development in alpine terrain managed by local authorities.

From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.

Rob Gordon, a spokesman for the free market think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, said the Endangered Species Act "has been used to stymie economic growth and trample on private property rights", he said.

This isn't the first move the administration has made that has angered environmentalists.

Greg Sheehan, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, would not argue with any of that.

The species of bird, called the sage grouse, has always been a point of contention between landowners and conservationists who have pushed for it to be listed on the Endangered Species Act.

Trump administration seeks endangered species rule changes