The Trump administration has just gutted the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – one of America’s bedrock environmental laws – to benefit the fossil fuel industry and developers at the expense of imperiled plants and animals.
The ESA has been one of the most effective environmental statutes in America, with 99 percent of species listed now on the path towards recovery. Many of the threatened and endangered species protected by the ESA – such as grizzly bears, grey wolves, bull trout, Canada lynx and desert tortoise – are found within America’s National Wilderness Preservation System.
The Trump administration’s ESA rollback comes on the heels of a United Nations report, which warned that one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction world-wide due to over-development, habitat destruction and climate change, with alarming implications for the natural world and human survival.
According to our friends at the Endangered Species Coalition, the "Trump Extinction Plan" weakens the Endangered Species Act in three ways:
1. It removes protections for any new species designated as "threatened." States could even open hunting and trapping seasons on threatened species unless explicitly prevented from doing so.
2. Under the ESA, listing decisions must be based on science alone. This rule upends that. It encourages policy-makers to deny protections to wildlife and plants if industry lobbyists perceive a potential economic cost.
3. It reduces the agencies’ ability to protect habitat, despite habitat loss being the leading cause of extinction.
These changes are clearly designed to ram through pipeline, road, logging, drilling and fracking projects at the expense of threatened and endangered species!
Over our 30-year history, Wilderness Watch has relied on the ESA to help protect threatened and endangered species that use Wilderness for part or all of their range. One current example is our lawsuit to stop the killing of grizzly bears at bait stations used by some hunters to lure black bears on national forest lands in Idaho and Wyoming, an unethical practice that is unbelievably still allowed within designated Wilderness in Idaho.
Please take action to defend and strengthen the Endangered Species Act by urging your members of Congress to co-sponsor and support the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019 (H.R. 4348 and S. 2491).
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