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Trump rule to change enforcement of Endangered Species Act

Trump rule to change enforcement of Endangered Species Act”

The Trump administration has finalized changes to enforcement of the landmark Endangered Species Act, a move it says will improve transparency and effectiveness but critics say will drive more creatures to extinction.

Three months after a United Nations report warned that 1 million species face extinction due to human activity, the Trump administration on Monday finalized rule changes to the Endangered Species Act that make it harder to protect plants and animals whose populations are in serious decline.

"These changes crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act's lifesaving protections for America's most vulnerable wildlife", Noah Greenwald, the Center for Biological Diversity's endangered species director, said in a statement.

The 1970s-era Act is credited with bringing back from the brink of extinction species such as bald eagles, gray whales and grizzly bears, but the law has always been a source of frustration for drillers, miners and other industries because new listings can put vast swaths of land off limits to development.

The changes included allowing economic cost to be taken into account as the federal government weighs protecting a struggling species, although Congress has stipulated that economic costs not be a factor in deciding whether to protect an animal.

The Endangered Species Act now protects more than 1,600 species in the United States and its territories.

"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", he said in a statement.

California and MA say they'll go to court to fight the Trump administration's overhaul of the Endangered Species Act. It came hours after the administration announced broad changes to the way the government would enforce endangered species protections.

Reports the Center for Biological Diversity: "The three rules finalized today were developed under the supervision of David Bernhardt, the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and a former fossil fuel industry lobbyist".

Several conservation groups also have promised court fights.

Democrat Senator Tom Udall, who represents the state of New Mexico, said the new regulation will "take a wrecking ball to one of our oldest and most effective environmental laws".

Conservation groups and attorneys general of several states including California and MA had been critical of the changes first proposed a year ago, saying the were in violation of the objective of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. "We'll see the Trump administration in court about it".

As the New York Times reported, the Trump administration's rollbacks will "very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live". "It was a tough pill to swallow".

"There's times where hope is something you don't even want to talk about", he said.

"We must modernize the Endangered Species Act in a way that empowers states, promotes the recovery of species, and allows local economies to thrive", Barrasso said.



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