WASHINGTON – The Trump administration rolled back longstanding federal protections for wildlife under threat of extinction Monday in a move that could expand oil and gas drilling and other development across America’s wilderness.
More than 40 years after Congress passed the Endangered Species Act, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the changes were necessary to make more efficient and transparent a bureaucratic process about which oil companies, ranchers and other industries have long complained.
“The revisions finalized with this rule-making fit squarely within the President’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” Ross said in a statement.
Among the changes made was a reduction in the frequency with which federal officials must consult with states and environmental groups in protecting and improving habitat for endangered wildlife. Also, the requirements for land to be designated “critical habitat” for an endangered species will be more rigorous, and species listed as threatened would no longer enjoy the same protections as endangered species.
Attorneys General in California and Massachusetts, along with conservation groups, said they plan to file lawsuits challenging the moves when the Trump administration files the final rule in the Federal Register in the weeks ahead.
“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. “For animals like wolverines and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end.”
In May, the United Nations published a report warning that close to 1 million species of plants and animals are at risk of going extinct within decades due to factors including marine pollution, climate change and deforestation.
The Interior Department will also begin publishing the economic impact of listing endangered species — although officials said their own decisions on listing species as endangered would remain limited to the scientific record.
The listing of species as endangered has long been a contentious process in the American West, where oil and gas drillers have been forced to scale back or abandon projects all together over possible damage to wildlife. Tensions came to a head in 2016 when the Obama administration proposed a plan to protect 67 million acres for the greater sage grouse, a bird best known for its courtship dance in which males inflate the yellow pouch on their necks to impress females.
“Over the past few years, there have been numerous efforts in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and elsewhere to list hundreds of species as endangered and place hundreds of thousands of acres of land off-limits to economic development,” an industry trade group, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, warned on its website.” And a new, stronger wave of threats is expected in the coming years, putting America’s independent producers at risk,”
Speaking with reporters Monday, Gary Frazer, director of ecological services at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, maintained the changes were not made to aid development.
“Nothing in here is a radical change from how we’ve been listing an de-listing species for the last decade or so,” he said. “I hope it will provide more certainty and transparency to the public.”
2 thoughts on “Interior rolls back endangered species protections in boon for oil companies”
BLEED THE SONOFABITCH DRY!!!!
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE OBVIOUSLY DONT GIVE A RATS ASS!!!!!!!
SQUEEZE IT TIL EVEN THE SUN WINKS OUT YOU DOGSHIT EATING JEW BASTARDS!!!!!!
THE EARTH WILL LOOK LIKE A PRUNE IN 5 MORE YEARS………
“THE EARTH WILL LOOK LIKE A PRUNE IN 5 MORE YEARS………”
True that… but at least we’ll have more ‘certainty and transparency’…
“I hope it will provide more certainty and transparency to the public.”