Donald Trump’s Administration Accused Of Gutting The Law That Saved The Bald Eagle From Possible Extinction

A bald eagle perched in a tree.
Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Donald Trump’s administration is being accused of gutting the law that protects a number of endangered species and is credited with saving the bald eagle from possible extinction.

As People magazine reported, the administration has made significant revisions to the Endangered Species Act, changes that critics say will have a devastating effect on wildlife. As the report notes, the Trump administration is eliminating a rule that automatically gave threatened species the same protections as those considered endangered and has allowed those making the decisions about whether to give protection to species to consider a range of new factors.

David Bernhardt, secretary of the Department of the Interior, had previously said that the blanket rule offering greater protections to threatened species “places unnecessary regulatory burden on our citizens.” The Trump administration also removed a rule that required regulators to factor in climate change when making assessments about threatened species and said that they are now allowed to considered economic factors when determining if a species warranted protection.

The changes came under immediate criticism. The Center for Biological Diversity released a statement on Twitter saying that the changes would “crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife.” It noted that for animals like wolverines and the monarch butterfly, this could be “the beginning of the end.” The organization vowed to fight the Trump administration in court to block the rule changes from going into effect.

The Center for Biological Diversity also characterized the rule changes as a boon for the oil industry, a view shared by the New York Times which noted that the rule changes “appear very likely to clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.”

The revisions are also drawing fire from the opposite side of the aisle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement on Tuesday saying that the changes place the needs of special interest above the public interest. Senator Jeff Merkley also pointed out that the Endangered Species Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support, having first been passed by Republican Richard Nixon and supported by Republicans. He said that the proposed changes have “nothing to do with conservative politics, and everything to do with giving handouts to special interests and rich pals.”

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The Endangered Species Act has been credited with offering critical protections to a number of species once in danger of extinction, including the grizzly bear and bald eagle.