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HomeGeneralBiden Restores Protection of Endangered Species Dropped by Trump

Biden Restores Protection of Endangered Species Dropped by Trump

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On Thursday, March 28, 2024, the Biden administration restored rules to protect imperiled species and shield their habitat from destruction. The Endangered Species Act, rolled back under former President Donald Trump, gives the federal government more leeway to designate plants or animals as threatened or endangered.

A picture of President biden who restored the Endangered Species Act
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President Richard Nixon signed the 51-year-old Endangered Species Act into law in 1973. The Act saved the bald eagle, the California condor, and numerous other animals and plants on the brink of extinction. However, in 2019, the Trump administration ordered changes to the law to ease costs for taxpayers and businesses.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, reversing will mean one thing: “listing decisions and critical habitat designations based on the best available science.” Among the changes, the regulation mandates blanket protections for animals and plants newly classified as threatened. 

That means officials won’t have to craft specific plans to shield each species while protections are pending. While the move has received positive reviews from wildlife advocates, Republicans criticize it. The restoration of more protective regulations rankled Republicans.

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They said the government wielded the Endangered Species Act too broadly and to the detriment of economic growth. Meanwhile, wildlife advocates were only partially satisfied, saying some potentially harmful changes under Trump were untouched.

Environmentalists expressed frustration that it took years for President Joe Biden to act on some of the Trump-era rollbacks. Stoking their urgency is the prospect of a new Republican administration following the 2024 election. They fear a Republican leadership could yet again ease protections.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, a former Fish and Wildlife Service director, characterized Thursday’s announcement as a “marginal win.” He said the announcement restores essential protections for wildlife. However, he noted that some of the changes made in 2019 under Trump are still in place.

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Property rights attorney Jonathan Wood said the changes reduce the incentive for private landowners to take voluntary conservation measures. With blanket protections, species designated as “threatened” automatically qualify for the same protections as those “endangered.” 

Hence, Wood said landowners could become indifferent to a species’ fate. However, Shultz said the Fish and Wildlife Service primarily uses blanket protections for threatened plants. Shultz claims plants are generally protected under federal law on federal lands but not private property. 

Furthermore, she said agency officials expect to continue crafting species-specific rules for threatened animals. Many energy companies, ranchers, developers, and other industries have long considered the 1973 Endangered Species Act an impediment.

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Under Trump, they successfully lobbied to weaken the law’s regulations as part of a broad dismantling of environmental safeguards. Environmental groups criticized the Trump administration’s move to prioritize money over science.

Trump’s then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told the media that the revisions fit squarely within his mandate. Ross said the former President was easing the regulatory burden on the American public without sacrificing protection and recovery goals.

Bruce Westerman, the Republican chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, decried the change. He said the Endangered Species Act is an outdated piece of legislation. “Biden is now undoing crucial reforms,” he said. “These rules are, at best, political posturing.”

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