Proposed Changes To The Endangered Species Act Want To Remove Protections For Future Threatened Species

Manatees are one species currently listed as threatened. Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

The White House is considering a proposal that will put future threatened species at risk by removing essential protections.

Titled "Removal of Blanket Section 4(d) Rule", the proposal from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) would drastically change how future species are handled.

Previously it had been suggested that the proposal would remove protections for up to 300 currently threatened species. That looks to be slightly incorrect however, with later reports noting that this will only affect species listed as threatened from now on.

Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said in a statement that Trump would go down as the “extinction president” if these protections for threatened animals were eliminated. It would reverse a rule that has stood for more than 40 years from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which gives threatened species the same protections as endangered species.

Speaking to CNN, a spokesperson for the FWS, Gavin Shire, said it was inaccurate that the rule would overturn existing protections. However, it looks like it wouldn't be good news for animals listed as threatened down the line.

The news comes just days after the Trump administration picked Susan Combs, an ardent opponent of the Endangered Species Act 1973 (ESA), to oversee wildlife and parks. She has tried to remove species protection on the ESA before, including arguing that bird protections impacted military training.

“Combs protested the listing of the dune sagebrush lizard, whose habitat coincides with Texas oil fields, and the federal government eventually heeded her request,” noted EcoWatch.

Rebpulicans (and other politicians) have argued that species protection prevents economic development, with a series of bills having been proposed to lessen the legislative power of the act.

Shire noted in a statement seen by CNN that any proposed changes would “go through a full and transparent public review process.” He added they would provide ample opportunity “for interested parties to provide input that we will consider to help us ensure these regulations are effective in furthering the ESA's ultimate goal – recovery of our most imperiled species to the point they no longer need federal protection."

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