Chipping Away at the ESA

Both Congress and the Trump administration continue their assaults on wildlife, particularly through efforts to undermine the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Several members of Congress have now packaged together nine bills to dismantle the ESA under the laughable guise of “modernizing” it. Together, these bills would make it easier to remove protections from listed species, deprive citizens of the right to challenge these actions in court, make states—with fewer resources—assume greater responsibility for species protection, and even allow the USFWS to throw out listing petitions when the agency decides there is a “backlog.”

Meanwhile, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have teamed up to weaken several critical components of the law. Through regulatory changes, they have proposed to (1) reduce protections for threatened species, (2) make it more difficult to ensure that imperiled species have sufficient habitat to support recovery, and (3) undermine the consultations agencies must conduct to ensure that their actions will not adversely affect listed species or their habitats.