On Monday, the Trump administration announced its decision to gut the Endangered Species Act, as The Hill reported.
Considered one of America’s most important environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act, first passed in 1973 by President Richard Nixon, is credited with protecting flora and fauna both in the United States and abroad.
The set of rollbacks would scale back the law significantly, limiting protections for threatened and endangered species. It would virtually disable the Interior Department from considering how climate change will impact vulnerable species, and introduce an economic factor into the equation.
Various industry groups praised the decision, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the American Petroleum Institute.
The scientific community is not pleased with the decision, according to a new report from The Washington Post.
Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, explained that the rollbacks are a catastrophe, not just for biodiversity, but for human beings as well.
“We can’t survive on this planet without the services that wildlife and plants provide for us — pollination, water and soil cleaning, pest control, oxygen,” she said, illustrating her point by explaining that the gutting of the act would harm the freshwater mussel, which filters up to 10 gallons of water of day, allowing for efficient water purification for towns and cities across the country.
Jacob Carter, a research scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, condemned the initiative as well, warning that the new set of rules could forever obliterate some species.
“This new rule will result in less protection for America’s threatened wildlife and a higher likelihood of losing species forever as Earth’s sixth mass extinction occurs,” he said.
According to the United Nations, “the rate of species extinction is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years, and it is set to rise sharply still further unless drivers are reduced.”
The Endangered Species Act is a critical environmental law that has proven successful — 99% of listed species have survived and many more have been on a path to recovery.
— Patagonia (@patagonia) August 12, 2019
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit international environmental advocacy group, condemned the Trump administration’s decision, arguing in a statement that the United States is facing an “extinction crisis,” and that the administration is gutting the signature law, despite vocal objections from scientists, wildlife experts, and ordinary Americans.
The group added that the rollback of protections also signals that the administration is ignoring the reality of climate change.
According to The New Yorker, the Endangered Species Act has inspired similar legislation across the world, saving more than 200 different species in the United States alone. Since 1973, the legislation saved iconic animals such as bald eagles, grizzly bears, American alligators, and Florida manatees.