Despite overwhelming public opposition, Trump administration moves forward on plans to roll back critical wildlife protections
WASHINGTON – Today, against a backdrop of recent reports of global mass extinction, the Trump administration released final regulations weakening the Endangered Species Act, the nation’s most effective tool in saving wildlife from extinction. The Trump Extinction Plan would gut critical endangered species protections by making it much more difficult to extend protections to threatened species, delaying lifesaving action until a species’ population is potentially impossible to save; making it more difficult to protect polar bears, coral reefs, and other species that are impacted by the effects of climate change; allowing economic factors to be analyzed when deciding if a species should be saved; and 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.
These changes come in the wake of tremendous public opposition to weakening the protections of the Endangered Species Act. After the proposed rules were announced, more than 800,000 public comments were submitted opposing the changes. Last fall, 105 Members of Congress and 34 U.S. Senators sent letters to Trump’s Department of the Interior to protest the harmful rollbacks. Ten states and the District of Columbia are also on record opposing the weakening of the Endangered Species Act as are more than 30 tribal nations.
The Endangered Species Act has been extremely effective; more than 99 percent of animals, plants and insects protected by the law have been saved from extinction. Endangered Species Act protection has saved some of the nation’s most celebrated wildlife including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, American gray wolf and humpback whale. A 2018 survey found that four out of five Americans support the Endangered Species Act and just one in ten say they oppose it.
Earlier this year, the National Parks Conservation Association released a report and corresponding interactive map and database, examining the overlap between ESA-protected wildlife and plants and our 419 national parks. Research found that more than half of the sites in the Park System provide habitat for over 600 threatened and endangered species.
Statement by Bart Melton, Wildlife Director for the National Parks Conservation Association
“Threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants in our national parks already face habitat changes and impacts of a climate crisis that is accelerating each year. Instead of working with Congress and states to better protect and restore wildlife as the climate changes, the Trump administration is reinterpreting the Endangered Species Act to weaken protections. The National Parks Conservation Association strongly opposes these final rules.”
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About the National Parks Conservation Association: For 100 years, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org/100.
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