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Legislation Would Reverse Trump Administration Attack on Endangered Species Act
“The extinction crisis is a real and present threat to the ecosystems we depend on,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate at WildEarth Guardians. “This legislation would guarantee that our most powerful environmental law—the Endangered Species Act—remains a strong protector of the most vulnerable species on our planet.”
Since the ESA’s enactment, 99 percent of listed species have avoided extinction, and hundreds more have been set on a path to recovery. The law is especially important as a defense against the current extinction crisis; species are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction due to human activities, resulting in what some scientists term a “biological annihilation.” According to a recent United Nations report, over a million species are currently at risk of extinction. Researchers estimate that, if not for ESA protections, 291 species would have gone extinct since the law’s passage in 1973.
Not only is the Endangered Species Act an effective law, it is also immensely popular. A 2015 Tulchin Research poll showed that 90 percent of voters support the Act, including 96 percent of self-identified liberals and 82 percent of self-identified conservatives. A 2018 study by researchers at The Ohio State University found that roughly four out of five Americans support the Endangered Species Act. Over 800,000 people sent comments to the federal agencies opposing these changes.
The new regulations from the Trump administration are an unprecedented weakening of protections for endangered species. Among other things, they allow consideration of economic factors in decisions about whether species are listed as threatened or endangered, strip newly listed threatened species of automatic protection, weaken protection of species’ critical habitat, and relax consultation standards that are meant to ensure federal agencies avoid jeopardizing species’ survival. These bills would ensure that the ESA remains a strong bulwark against the extinction crisis.
WildEarth Guardians (www.wildearthguardians.org) is a conservation non-profit whose mission is to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, and over 231,000 members and supporters worldwide. Follow Guardians on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.