As President Trump and Vladimir Putin’s meeting from Tuesday continues to dominate headlines, some stories are being lost under the fold. One of those stories is about the new threat that endangered species face: the Trump administration’s agenda.
There are currently 16,306 endangered plant and animal species, and even more at risk of becoming so. Some examples of endangered species in North America include the red wolf, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, and the California Condor.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was passed alongside other environmentally conscious legislation in the 1970s to create a framework for preserving endangered species in the United States. The act helps provide funds to state programs which focus on preserving species that face the possibility of nonexistence due to man's influence on the environment.
This act is significant not only because of the positive environmental effects and protections it offers to dwindling species, but because it helps the United States comply to international agreements regarding the preservation and protection of certain species of flora and fauna.
On Thursday, the Trump administration proposed a rollback on almost all key elements of the longstanding act. These include:
1) The removal of the necessitation to provide aid to species marked as threatened in a similar manner to those which are endangered. Protections will instead be extended case by case and with more scrutiny than is currently being applied.
2) The removal of “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination” in regards to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This basically means that the Trump administration believes that economic interest should be taken into account when decisions are made about which species need protection. This practice is currently deplored.
3) The removal of the requirement for federal agencies to “consult with scientists and wildlife agencies before approving permits for ventures such as oil and gas drilling and logging.”
The scientific community, including conservationists and other wildlife experts, is extremely concerned about the future of endangered species if these proposed changes are implemented.
These proposed changes largely align with the general stance on environmental issues taken by the Trump administration. The former EPA administrator under Trump, Scott Pruitt, was a climate-change denier. On June 1, 2017 President Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 world climate change act—the Paris Agreement. Overall, the administration has demonstrated an opposition to conservation and environmentalism, instead prioritizing business and economic interests over the future of the planet.