Conservation Groups Vow to Sue To Protect Endangered Species Act

Aug 13, 2019

Conservation groups are slamming the Trump administration's new rule that significantly weakens the Endangered Species Act.

The rule announced Monday would make it harder for scientists to consider climate change when deciding whether to list a species, and make it easier to take a species off the endangered species list. Leda Huta, executive director at the Endangered Species Coalition, said it paves the way for industrial projects to be pushed through - even if they push plant and animal species closer to extinction.

"It will make it easier for companies to build roads and pipelines and mines and other industrial projects in critical habitat areas that are essential to the survival of endangered species," Huta said.

The administration said it is trying to ease the regulatory burden on industry.

The monarch butterfly is one of many species being considered for federal protections.

A recent United Nations study found 1 million species worldwide verge on extinction due to human activity. Until now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was only allowed to consider whether a species was close to extinction when making a recommendation for a listing. But with the change, they'll also be able to look at the economic consequences.

However, Huta said the economics should only come into play after the listing.

"Once you start to figure out how to protect a species, then you can consider cost and benefit," she said. "For listing, it's not about cost. It's just about science."

More than 800,000 responses poured in during the public comment period, and they overwhelmingly were against these changes, which will take effect in about a month. Multiple wildlife organizations have said they will very likely take the feds to court to preserve the Endangered Species Act.