Environmentalists Condemn Revisions to Endangered Species Act

Aug 14, 2019

This week the Trump administration announced revisions to the Endangered Species Act, which allow the government to present the economic costs of protecting a species. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, critics say the new rules will hasten extinctions of rare plants and animals.

Mexican Spotted Owls
Credit Apache Sitgreaves National Forest

The Endangered Species Act previously directed the U.S. Department of the Interior to make decisions about listing or delisting species “without reference to possible economic impacts.” That language has been removed. The new regulations allow federal officials to present information about economic costs to the public, so long as that information doesn’t influence listing determinations.

Sandy Bahr of Arizona’s Sierra Club chapter says the change goes against the law’s intent. "It provides another way for specific special interests to insert their way into decisions that are supposed to be based on science," she says.

The revisions also tighten the standards for designating critical habitat; and threatened species will no longer automatically receive the same protections as endangered ones. In Arizona, species affected by that rule include the Mexican spotted owl, desert tortoise, and Chiricahua leopard frog.

It’s expected the new rules will be challenged in court.