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10 State Attorneys General to Sue Trump Administration from Making Changes to U.S. Endangered Species Act

About 1,600 species are currently protected by the act and the administration says streamlining regulations is the best way

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FILE - Monarch butterflies cling to a plant at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, California, Dec. 30, 2014. VOA

At least 10 state attorneys general say they will join conservation groups in suing the Trump administration from making drastic changes to the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

U.S. officials have announced a revision of the nearly 50-year-old set of laws that environmentalists credit with saving numerous animals, plants and other species from extinction.

About 1,600 species are currently protected by the act and the administration says streamlining regulations is the best way to ensure those animals stay protected.

“The revisions finalized with this rule-making fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.

Attorney Generals, Trump, Endangered Species
At least 10 state attorneys general say they will join conservation groups in suing the Trump administration from making drastic changes to the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Pixabay

The proposed changes include considering the economic cost when deciding to save a species from extinction. The law currently says the cost to logging or oil interests will have no bearing on whether an animal, bird, or other species deserves protection.

The revised act would also end blanket protection for a species listed as threatened — a designation that is one step away from declaring an animal population as endangered — and reduce some wildlife habitat.

Conservation and wildlife groups took little time in denouncing the changes, calling them President Donald Trump’s gift to logging, ranching, and oil industries.

‘Beginning of the end’

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“These changes crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife,” the Center for Biological Diversity’s Noah Greenwald said. “For animals like the wolverine and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end.”

The center’s Brett Hartl added that putting a price tag on whether a species deserves to live opens the door for political interference.

“You have to be really naive and cynical and disingenuous to pretend otherwise. That’s the reason Congress prohibited the Fish and Wildlife Service from doing that. It’s a science question — is a species going extinct, yes or no?”

Attorney Generals, Trump, Endangered Species
U.S. officials have announced a revision of the nearly 50-year-old set of laws that environmentalists credit with saving numerous animals, plants and other species from extinction. Pixabay

Attorneys general from 10 states along with environmental groups say they will take the administration to court to preserve the Endangered Species Act. Several congressional Democrats are also denouncing the changes.

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Republican President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law in 1973 as part of the new environmental awareness that was sweeping the country in the early 1970s, which included Earth Day and the Clear Water and Air acts. (VOA)

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Trump Administration Throws Out Obama-Era Rules that Expended Federal Protection of Waterways from Pollution

The Trump administration has thrown out Obama-era rules that expended federal protection of waterways from pollution

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Trump, Administration, Obama Era
FILE - A dry water ditch is seen next to a corn field in Cordova, Maryland, June 11, 2015. VOA

The Trump administration has thrown out Obama-era rules that expended federal protection of waterways from pollution, a move environmentalists say they will challenge in court.

Getting rid of the 2015 Waters of the United States Act “puts an end to an egregious power grab, eliminates an ongoing patchwork of clean water regulations, and restores a longstanding and familiar regulatory framework,” Environmental Protection Agency Chief Andrew Wheeler said Thursday.

He added that it fulfills one of President Donald Trump’s “key promises.”

Wheeler made his announcement at the Washington headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, whose members have been lobbying against the clean water regulations.

Trump, Administration, Obama Era
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks at a news conference in Washington, Sept. 12, 2019. VOA

The WOTUS rule protected wetlands and streams from pollution by pesticides, mine waste and fertilizers. It solidified what waterways fell under the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act.

Opponents of the Obama administration rules say the regulations created confusion, and likened them to a federal land grab of private property. Farmers and others complained the act also applied to small ponds that do not flow anywhere, leaving them wondering whether they could work their land without violating federal law.

Wheeler says the EPA will now redefine which waterways are subject to federal regulation.

Planned lawsuit

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Environmentalists say they will take the EPA to court. They said Thursday that throwing out the 2015 rule means unsafe drinking water, a higher risk of floods when wetlands are destroyed and less wildlife habitat.

“The Clean Water rule represented solid science and smart public policy,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said Thursday.

Betsy Southerland, a top EPA official during the Obama years, calls the repeal a “victory for land developers, oil and gas drillers, and miners.” (VOA)