In August, the Trump administration released final regulations that severely weaken critical Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections at a time when increased threats from habitat destruction and climate change necessitate full enforcement of the ESA. This comes just three months after the United Nations released a report warning of “unprecedented” and “accelerating” global mass extinctions caused by human activity.
The new regulations curtail protections afforded to threatened species, allow economic information to be collected when deciding whether to list a species, limit areas within a species’ range that can be designated as critical habitat, and undermine the interagency consultation process by restricting input from experts best suited to determine how federal projects affect imperiled species.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service ignored public outcry against the proposed changes, including more than 800,000 public comments and letters signed by 105 US representatives and 34 senators. Ten states and the District of Columbia also opposed the weakening of the ESA, as did more than 30 tribal nations. By rolling back key components of the law, this administration is once again promoting industrial development at the expense of vulnerable wildlife.