An Unprecedented Attack on the Endangered Species Act

Despite devastating new reports of catastrophic species loss, the USFWS just finalized regulations that would eviscerate the Endangered Species Act– our nation’s most effective law for saving imperiled wildlife from extinction. Thanks to the ESA, 99% of listed species have survived and many more have been set on a path to recovery. At a time of unprecedented global mass extinction, it is unconscionable that the administration is rolling back protections for our most imperiled species. 

The Administrations’s Extinction Plan would gravely weaken critical endangered species protections by:

  • Making it more difficult to extend protections to threatened species, delaying lifesaving action until a species’ population is so small it may be challenging or impossible to save;
  • Allowing economic factors to be analyzed when deciding if a species should be saved;
  • Making it more difficult to protect polar bears, coral reefs, and other imperiled species that are most impacted by climate change;
  • Making it easier for companies to build roads, pipelines, mines, and other industrial projects in critical habitat areas that are essential to imperiled species’ survival.

Extinction crisis

 

 

  • A 2017 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that, of 27,600 species studied, nearly one-third of species are shrinking in population numbers and territorial ranges
  • As Americans, we have a responsibility to protect our natural heritage—including wildlife—for future generations. 
  • At a time of unprecedented wildlife extinction and habitat destruction, we should be working to strengthen, not weaken, our nation’s best tool for helping to prevent extinction. 

Favor to industry

  • The only winners in this Extinction Plan to weaken endangered species protections are industries that want to develop wildlife habitat, ranging from builders and oil companies to mining companies and other extractive industries.
  • All indications are that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was a driving force for these proposed regulatory changes. 
  • The proposed changes directly benefit many of the industries that Bernhardt had as clients while working as a lobbyist for mining companies, oil and gas companies, and powerful water users in the West. 
  • We should not jeopardize our natural heritage for the benefit of corporate polluters.  

Climate

  • The regulations would make it more difficult to protect polar bears, coral reefs, and many other species that are impacted by the effects of climate change. 
  • Human destruction of nature is eroding the world’s capacity to provide food, water and security to billions of people at such a rate that the risks posed by biodiversity loss should be considered on the same scale as those of climate change.
  • Climate change is rapidly becoming one of the most significant threats to species and biodiversity across the United States. 
  • Wildlife are already exhibiting the myriad, acute impacts of climate change in both terrestrial and marine environments; conservation strategies must begin to provide for species contending with these effects.
  • The 2018 U.N. IPCC Report on Global Warming warns of severe consequences from current warming trends for both human and natural communities—and stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s relentless hostility to climate change preparedness.

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