by Lewis Young, Conservation Committee
If you value endangered species you should be aware that significant revisions to the 1973 Endangered Species Act have been proposed. Nine bills in the House, 1 in the Senate, and a series of regulatory proposals recently released by the Trump administration would all serve to undermine sound science, habitat protections, and the ability of everyday citizens to enforce the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are the two major federal agencies that administer the ESA. The FWS has issued proposed changes to the regulations that the public can comment on through September 24. The proposed changes may be viewed at: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_ESA/regulation-revisions.html.
The proposed changes include:
- Make it more difficult to extend protections to threatened species, delaying lifesaving action until a species’ population is so small it may be challenging or impossible to save.
- Exempt climate change from key parts of the law, making it more difficult to protect the polar bear, the bearded seal, and many other imperiled species that are impacted by the effects of climate change.
- Require economic factors to be analyzed when deciding if a species should be saved
- Make it easier for companies to build roads, pipelines, mines, and other industrial projects in critical habitat areas that are essential to imperiled species’ survival.
Individuals may voice their concerns to the proposed changes in various ways. Comments may be made to the FWS by the September 24 deadline, concerns may be expressed directly to Montana’s Senators and Representative and to Secretary of the Interior Zinke, and concerns may be expressed in letters to the editor. Please use any or all of the ways to make your concerns known