Week of August 18, 2019


The answer depends upon interpretation.  To the Trump Administration, the new set of rules to go into effect in 30 days will keep the “safeguarding” part of the act intact while closing regulatory loopholes that have burdened the American pubic.  To environmental scientists and citizen alike, the new rules will greatly weaken the popular 1973 Act put into effect under President Nixon. With 300 pages of administrative red tape and new interpretations of old wording, threatened species will be examined on a “case by case” basis.  Habitat examination will no longer include provisions for migration of species because of climate change. More emphasis on economic costs of protection will limit the list of species protected and possibly open large areas to more mining, oil and gas drilling and economic development. This comes at a time when the UN Report on Biodiversity (Report put together by 155 authors from 50 countries analyzing 15000 scientific and governmental sources) warns that at least a million species in all categories are threatened with extinction. The report goes on to say that the problem is more than one or two favorite animals or birds going missing– it is a systemic problem that undermines the ecology of the planet.  Sir Robert Watson, Chair of the Intergovernmental Science & Policy Platform on Biodiversity says that, if we ignore ongoing loss of species, “We are eroding the foundation of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life.”  Interestingly, both the authors of the UN Report on Biodiversity and the Trump Administration are concerned with “economics’—one taking the short view ignoring the cumulative results of actions and inactions and the other taking the long view that preserving as much of the biodiversity of the planet will protect earth’s ability to sustain human life, health and well being.

Congressional Oversight Groups are sure to investigate the proposed rules changes and environmental groups are poised to sue and advocate against these rules that subvert the mission and protective nature of the Endangered Species Act.

EARTH STEWARD ACTION:  Contact your members of congress to express your feeling on this matter.  

SOURCES: https://www.npr.org/trump/administration/changes/rules/endangered-species-act, https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/13/20804385, https://www.usnews.com/news/endangered-species-act/rules