Wading in a pool of abstraction © Robert Sommers 2023

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Specious species speculation

The Trump Administration proposed one of its patented Friday afternoon rule changes that will make it harder to designate critical environmental habitat and require the Fish and Wildlife Service to put their thumb on the scale and stop species restoration efforts for plants and animals covered  by the Endangered Species Act if industry believes that the economic impacts are too great.
The Trump administration is proposing another measure that critics say will harm endangered species, proposing Friday to further weigh economic impacts before setting aside habitat that could aid their recovery.The proposal from the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) would change what the agency considers before designating new so-called critical habitat, a move that would give more weight to the financial impacts on the oil and gas industry, ranchers and even homeowners.Environmentalists fear the rule would tilt the process to the favor of industry after the administration has already finalized a major rollback of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
If Trump is an environmentalist, as he claims he is, I am the flying nun.  These measures, if enacted, will have a horrible effect on the effort to save endangered species in our country. He is trying to put the final nails in the environmental coffin for the benefits of his special interest donors before he is forced off the political stage. His departure couldn't happen a minute too soon for me.
“Developers and polluters could basically veto any critical habitat protections for endangered species by claiming economic impacts, even without proof,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wildlife simply can’t survive or recover if they have no place to live, but that’s exactly what will happen if the Trump administration succeeds in turning over the critical habitat designation process to industry.”The rule would also require the Service to consider excluding an area if requested and open federal lands to exclusion for the benefit of special interests exploiting those lands.Today’s rule is the third proposed by the Trump administration to weaken protections for the habitat of endangered species.

My prediction is that when money and economic effects become the principal calculi in these sorts of decisions, plants and animals will lose every time. 

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