US President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday finalized rollbacks to key provisions of the US Endangered Species Act, a law supported by a majority of Americans and credited with saving the gray wolf, bald eagle and grizzly bear.
The move was met with anger by environmental groups and US Democratic politicians, including former US vice president Joe Biden, while two states announced that they would take legal action.
Amendments include removing a rule that automatically conveys the same protections to threatened species and endangered species, and allowing data on economic impact to be gathered when making determinations on how wildlife is listed.
Photo: AFP / US FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE/HANDOUT
In a statement characterizing the changes as “improvements,” US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said: “The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal: recovery of our rarest species.”
Biden, the leading contender for the Democratic party’s nomination in next year’s US presidential election, hit back, saying that the amendments could push some species toward oblivion.
Conservation groups reacted with dismay, vowing legal challenges against what the nonprofit Sierra Club dubbed the “Trump Extinction plan.”
The attorneys general of California and Massachusetts announced their intention to sue the administration over the changes to the act.
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