Aug 12

Trump Administration Finalizes Rules to Weaken Endangered Species Act, Protections for Imperiled Wildlife

Photo: USFWS

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 12, 2019
Contact: Leda Huta,, (202) 320-6467
Corry Westbrook, (202) 841-6371

Washington, D.C. – Just weeks after the release of an earth-shaking global assessment foretelling the extinction of one million species, the Trump Administration today published its final Endangered Species Act regulations, which have been widely condemned by conservationists and scientists in the United States. Approved by embattled Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, these regulations will have real-world negative impacts for the country’s most imperiled plants and wildlife, such as the monarch butterfly, sea turtles, manatees, wolverines, and hundreds more. Some of these species were profiled in a recent report by several conservation groups, led by the Endangered Species Coalition — Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration.

“Scientists have reviewed these new Department of Interior (DOI) regulations, and it is clear that they will severely weaken our country’s key biodiversity protections so essential to prevent species extinction,” according to Tom Lovejoy, a world-renowned scientist who first coined the term “biological diversity.”

The new regulations will make it more difficult to protect wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction, while weakening critical habitat protections for species designated as “threatened.”

“It is particularly egregious that the Trump Administration is steamrolling through unpopular rules issued by an Interior Secretary embroiled in at least 17 scandals,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Losing our biodiversity isn’t something that any American can afford. We don’t live in an enclosed man-made bubble — our health and safety, the health and safety of our children and grandchildren, our access to clean air and water, actually depends on biodiversity.”

Long-time industry lobbyist, David Bernhardt was recently confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Interior, in spite of ethical questions, suppressing science, and hiding his lobbying against protections for an endangered fish. Just four days after his confirmation by the Senate, Interior’s Inspector General opened an ethics investigation into the newly-confirmed Secretary.

The regulations were finalized despite the overwhelming opposition of American citizens–more than 866,000 submitted comments opposing the new regulations. A decade of polling has consistently shown that the American public strongly supports the Endangered Species Act–90 percent in the most recent poll. And in 2017, more than 420 conservation organizations signed a letter to Congress opposing any weakening of the Endangered Species Act.

The Act has a 99% success rate. Species such as bald eagles, American alligator, humpback whale, Santa Cruz island fox, Tennessee purple coneflower and many more have recovered thanks to the Act. Hundreds more species have seen an  incredible resurgence including the grey wolf, Grizzly bear, black-footed ferret, and Whooping crane.

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