Russia this, Russia that, meanwhile the work of rolling back protections for the environment and the critters in it goes on. The Trump Administration today proposed three changes to species protection that environmental groups say could have a profoundly negative effect on efforts to restore populations.

“The three proposed rules from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service would severely weaken protections for hundreds of endangered animals and plants across the country,” said the Center for Biological Diversity. “They would also ensure that hundreds of imperiled species awaiting protection — like the monarch butterfly and the American wolverine — either never get safeguards or face additional, extinction-threatening delays.”

The proposals would:


• Ignore impacts to critical habitat unless it impacted the entire habitat, rather than considering the sum of many small but collectively damaging impacts.

• Block the government from designating critical habitat due to climate change.

• Require the government to consider economic impact when evaluating threatened species protection.


“We are proposing these improvements to produce the best conservation results for the species while reducing the regulatory burden on the American people,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan, said in a statement. “One thing we heard over and over again was that ESA implementation was not consistent and often times very confusing to navigate.”

Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, “These proposals would slam a wrecking ball into the most crucial protections for our most endangered wildlife. If these regulations had been in place in the 1970s, the bald eagle and the gray whale would be extinct today. If they’re finalized now, Zinke will go down in history as the extinction secretary.

“This proposal turns the extinction-prevention tool of the Endangered Species Act into a rubber stamp for powerful corporate interests. Allowing the federal government to turn a blind eye to climate change will be a death sentence for polar bears and hundreds of other animals and plants.”

Separately, the independent investigative journalism group Reveal reported that under Trump the government has stopped reviewing toxic pesticides that are hurting wildlife.

Photo by Christopher Michel

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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.