Trump Administration Moves to Roll Back Endangered Species Protections

The Trump administration on Thursday proposed sweeping changes to the Endangered Species Act that critics say will help oil and gas businesses while leaving some animals at risk of extinction. Among the proposed changes, one provision would remove language from the 1973 federal law that prohibits considering economic impact when deciding whether a species should be protected. Another provision would scale back the protections granted to “threatened” species, the category just beneath species that are deemed “endangered.” David L. Bernhardt, the deputy secretary of the Interior Department, said the changes would “ameliorate some of the unnecessary burden, conflict and uncertainty that is within our current regulatory structure.” While Bernhardt claimed the proposed rules would still be “very protective” of wildlife, environmental activists have described the move as a death sentence for some of the most threatened species. The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed revisions before the Interior Department and the Department of Commerce finalize them.