(USNewsMag.com) – The Biden administration is proposing reinstating a rule former President Donald Trump softened in what the White House says is an effort to protect endangered animals and plants.
The changes made to the Endangered Species Act would reinstate blanket protections for newly endangered species. Under the proposed changes, the economic impact will no longer be considered when making a determination regarding plant and animal protections. The new rule would make it easier to designate an area as critical to the survival of a species, even if the species is not found in that location anymore.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Director Gary Frazer, the proposed changes would restore “baseline” protections, which could help certain species of fish as well as freshwater mussels.
Biden administration officials say they are trying to bring the 1973 Endangered Species Act closer to its original intent. The proposed changes could take up to a year to finalize.
Those opposed to the proposed changes say that they will hamper the efforts of state and private conservation groups by imposing punitive regulations that undermine the incentive to do voluntary conservation work.
Those in support of the changes say the changes would ensure the Endangered Species Act remains effective, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit.
In 2019, as part of changes made by former President Donald Trump, blanket protections were removed from the Endangered Species Act. Trump also made changes to the rules and protections for gray wolves and the northern spotted owl. In 2021, the rollback of the rules and protections for the northern spotted owl was reversed. In 2022, a federal court restored protections for gray wolves. In February 2024, the Biden administration will determine if the protections should remain.
The Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Currently, it protects more than 1,600 species in the United States as well as its territories and is credited with helping to save species such as the bald eagle.
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