Disaster U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act -

Cosmos

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True & Honest Fan
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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied,significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law and making it harder to protect wildlife from the multiple threats posed by climate change.

The new rules would make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and weaken protections for threatened species, the classification one step below endangered. And, for the first time, regulators would be allowed to conduct economic assessments — for instance, estimating lost revenue from a prohibition on logging in a critical habitat — when deciding whether a species warrants protection.

Critically, the changes would also make it more difficult for regulators to factor in the effects of climate change on wildlife when making those decisions because those threats tend to be decades away, not immediate.

Over all, the revised rules appear very likely to clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the changes would modernize the Endangered Species Act — which is credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from the brink of extinction — and increase transparency in its application. “The act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” he said in a statement Monday.

The new rules are expected to go into effect next month.

Environmental groups, Democratic state attorneys general and Democrats in Congress denounced the changes and vowed to challenge them in Congress and in the courts.

Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, called the changes “reckless” and said states would “do everything we can to oppose these actions.”

Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, the top Democrat on the committee that oversees the Interior Department’s budget, said Democrats were considering invoking the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that gives Congress broad authority to invalidate rules established by federal agencies, to block the changes.

The Endangered Species Act has been regulators’ most powerful tool for protecting fish, plants and wildlife ever since it was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in 1973. The peregrine falcon, the humpback whale, the Tennessee purple coneflower and the Florida manatee all would very likely have disappeared without it, scientists say.

Republicans have long sought to narrow the scope of the law, saying that it burdens landowners, hampers industry and hinders economic growth. Mr. Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, wrote in an op-ed last summer that the act places an “unnecessary regulatory burden” on companies.

They also make the case that the law is not reasonable because species are rarely removed from the list. Since the law was passed, more than 1,650 have been listed as threatened or endangered, while just 47 have been delisted because their populations rebounded.

Over the past two years Republicans made a major legislative push to overhaul the law. Despite holding a majority in both houses of Congress, though, the proposals were never taken up in the Senate. With Democrats now in control of the House, there is little chance of those bills passing.

The Trump administration’s revisions to the regulations that guide the implementation of the law, however, mean opponents of the Endangered Species Act are still poised to claim their biggest victory in decades.

Among the most controversial changes are the limitations on the ability of regulators to take climate change into consideration when making listing assessments.

David J. Hayes, who served as a deputy interior secretary under President Barack Obama and is now executive director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law, said the changes would “straitjacket the scientists to take climate change out of consideration” when determining how to best protect wildlife.

A recent United Nations assessment, some environmentalists noted, warned that human pressures are poised to drive one million species into extinction and that protecting land and biodiversity is critical to keep greenhouse gas emissions in check.

Climate change, a lack of environmental stewardship and mass industrialization have all contributed to the enormous expected global nature loss, the United Nations report said.

Another contentious change removes longstanding language that prohibits the consideration of economic factors when deciding whether a species should be protected.

Under the current law, such determinations must be made solely based on science, “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of determination.”

Gary Frazer, the assistant director for endangered species with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, said that phrase had been removed for reasons of “transparency.” He said the change leaves open the possibility of conducting economic analyses for informational purposes, but that decisions about listing species would still be based exclusively on science.

Environmental groups saw a danger in that. “There can be economic costs to protecting endangered species,” said Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife and oceans at Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. But, he said, “If we make decisions based on short-term economic costs, we’re going to have a whole lot more extinct species.”

The new rules also give the government significant discretion in deciding what is meant by the term “foreseeable future.” That’s a semantic change with far-reaching implications, because it enables regulators to disregard the effects of extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change that may occur several decades from now.

When questioned about that change and its implications in the era of climate change, Mr. Frazer said the agency wanted to avoid making “speculative” decisions far into the future.

Among the animals at risk from this change, Mr. Caputo listed a few:Polar bears and seals that are losing crucial sea ice; whooping cranes whose migration patterns are shifting because of temperature changes; and beluga whales that will have to dive deeper and longer to find food in a warmer Arctic.

Representative Rob Bishop of Utah, the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, applauded the changes, saying the Endangered Species Act had become a “political weapon instead of a tool to protect wildlife” under the Obama administration.

“These final revisions are aimed at enhancing interagency cooperation, clarifying standards, and removing inappropriate one-size-fits-all practices,” he said.

Erik Milito, a vice president at the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing the oil and gas industry, also praised the new rule and said the changes would reduce “duplicative and unnecessary regulations.”
This is so reckless, thoughtless, dangerous, and careless. Does anyone care about anything other than making a dollar? This is all about the oil, gas, and mining industries. They want a free for all. They want to be able to drill, to strip, to mine wherever and whenever they want with abandonment, and they're pissed that laws like the Endangered Species Act prevent them from doing it.

These lawmakers and corporations care more about making a few more dollars than the welfare of our one and only planet and it needs to end.
 

Anonymous For This

Flying pierogis at vienna.
kiwifarms.net
On one hand, the EPA is an autistic organization that stops private property owners from improving their land due to frogs or insects that they say live there, but the owner has never seen before in his life. EPA is also responsible for the Animas Fork in Colorado being utterly fucked. So, my pity levels for them are quite low.

On the other hand, there is a need to protect endangered species from human encroachment. I think there should be leniency on private landowners. As far as I can tell, there's no way of knowing a property you buy might be home to some Nicklebacked Rape Toad migratory route that means you won't be able to build your cabin or whatever.

Corporations and mining companies should be held to a far stricter standard. Fuck off with cutting the tops off mountains to strip mine coal. At the same time, we need to hold the EPA to a higher standard. They completely destroyed the Animas Fork in Colorado and when they knew pollutants were heading downstream, they opted not to notify the Navajo Nation or New Mexico. This resulted in the San Juan River getting equally fucked and the EPA being forced to truck water to the Navajo Nation.

But hey, don't worry about it, they're here to protect the environment. But if they fuck up, they'll refuse to pay for your losses from their fuck-ups.
 
Among the most controversial changes are the limitations on the ability of regulators to take climate change into consideration when making listing assessments.

David J. Hayes, who served as a deputy interior secretary under President Barack Obama and is now executive director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law, said the changes would “straitjacket the scientists to take climate change out of consideration” when determining how to best protect wildlife.

A recent United Nations assessment, some environmentalists noted, warned that human pressures are poised to drive one million species into extinction and that protecting land and biodiversity is critical to keep greenhouse gas emissions in check.
Yeah I think I'm seeing the logic right here. Some jackass encoded global warming bullshit into the endangered species rules at some point, and since it's fake, it's rather stupid to use it that way.

If that's "among the most controversial changes" then there's no actual controversy.
 

Marchesa_ofthe_Vast

Mediocre Commentator
kiwifarms.net
So it seems the biggest changes here are limiting the influence climate change on decisions and make it easier(?) to rerank a species protected status if they rebound populationwise.

I didn't realize climate change predictions were apparently a big deal in these decisions. Since all I've ever heard of models and predictions is them being garbage, I'm not particularly bothered by that. I'd need to see more about how the EPA currently and would in the future classify a species protected status.
 

Cosmos

Soldier of Love and Bitching on the Internet
Supervisor
True & Honest Fan
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Yeah I think I'm seeing the logic right here. Some jackass encoded global warming bullshit into the endangered species rules at some point, and since it's fake, it's rather stupid to use it that way.
Literally 97% of climate scientists, numerous scientific organizations, and peer-reviewed studies have reached the consensus that human-influenced climate change is real but sure, it's "fake." Let's also ignore the fact that climate change denial is funded and lobbied by the fossil fuel industry.
 

It's HK-47

Meatbag's Bounty of Bodies
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Washington - In its more than 45-year history, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has catalyzed countless conservation partnerships that have helped recover some of America’s most treasured animals and plants from the bald eagle to the American alligator. Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt unveiled improvements to the implementing regulations of the ESA designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century.

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal—recovery of our rarest species. The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation.”

“The revisions finalized with this rulemaking fit squarely within the President’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These changes were subject to a robust, transparent public process, during which we received significant public input that helped us finalize these rules.”

The changes finalized today by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service apply to ESA sections 4 and 7. Section 4, among other things, deals with adding species to or removing species from the Act’s protections and designating critical habitat; section 7 covers consultations with other federal agencies.

The ESA directs that determinations to add or remove a species from the lists of threatened or endangered species be based solely on the best available scientific and commercial information, and these will remain the only criteria on which listing determinations will be based. The regulations retain language stating, “The Secretary shall make a [listing] determination solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial information regarding a species’ status.”

The revisions to the regulations clarify that the standards for delisting and reclassification of a species consider the same five statutory factors as the listing of a species in the first place. This requirement ensures that all species proposed for delisting or reclassification receive the same careful analysis to determine whether or not they meet the statutory definitions of a threatened or endangered species as is done for determining whether to add a species to the list.

While this administration recognizes the value of critical habitat as a conservation tool, in some cases, designation of critical habitat is not prudent. Revisions to the regulations identify a non-exhaustive list of such circumstances, but this will continue to be rare exceptions.

When designating critical habitat, the regulations reinstate the requirement that areas where threatened or endangered species are present at the time of listing be evaluated first before unoccupied areas are considered. This reduces the potential for additional regulatory burden that results from a designation when species are not present in an area. In addition, the regulations impose a heightened standard for unoccupied areas to be designated as critical habitat. On top of the existing standard that the designated unoccupied habitat is essential to the conservation of the species, it must also, at the time of designation, contain one or more of the physical or biological features essential to the species’ conservation.

To ensure federal government actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or destroy or adversely modify their critical habitat, federal agencies must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service under section 7 of the Act. The revisions to the implementing regulations clarify the interagency consultation process and make it more efficient and consistent.

The revisions codify alternative consultation mechanisms that may provide greater efficiency for how ESA consultations are conducted. They also establish a deadline for informal consultations to provide greater certainty for federal agencies and applicants of timely decisions, without compromising conservation of ESA-listed species.

Revisions to the definitions of “destruction or adverse modification,” “effects of the action” and “environmental baseline” further improve the consultation process by providing clarity and consistency.

In addition to the final joint regulations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a separate revision rescinding its “blanket rule” under section 4(d) of the ESA. The rule had automatically given threatened species the same protections as endangered species unless otherwise specified.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has never employed such a blanket rule, so the new regulations bring the two agencies into alignment. The change impacts only future threatened species’ listings or reclassifications from endangered to threatened status and does not apply to species already listed as threatened. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will craft species-specific 4(d) rules for each future threatened species determination as deemed necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species, as has been common practice for many species listed as threatened in recent years.

From comments received during the public comment period in making these regulatory changes, concerns were raised regarding the lack of transparency in making listing decisions and the economic impact associated with determinations. Public transparency is critical in all government decision making, and the preamble to the regulation clarifies that the ESA does not prohibit agencies from collecting data that determine this cost and making that information available, as long as doing so does not influence the listing determination.

The final regulations submitted to the Federal Register can be found here: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_ESA/regulation-revisions.html.
Alternatively, from a source that doesn't just scream incoherently about climate change at the drop of every hat, there are very clear reasons as to why these changes are made, and I can't help but find it interesting that nowhere in the New York Times article are all of the regulatory changes or the specific proposal(s) in question actually linked to the reader so that they can make their own determinations and get a better understanding of how they've been working to restructure and streamline the ESA. Apparently it's just easier to make people get all angry because you showed them a picture of a bald eagle.

This isn't exactly a new or shockingly-sudden development that was being kept super-top-secret, they've been working on this since 2017.
 

Flexo

serial #3370318
kiwifarms.net
On one hand, the EPA is an autistic organization that stops private property owners from improving their land due to frogs or insects that they say live there, but the owner has never seen before in his life. EPA is also responsible for the Animas Fork in Colorado being utterly fucked. So, my pity levels for them are quite low.

On the other hand, there is a need to protect endangered species from human encroachment. I think there should be leniency on private landowners. As far as I can tell, there's no way of knowing a property you buy might be home to some Nicklebacked Rape Toad migratory route that means you won't be able to build your cabin or whatever.

Corporations and mining companies should be held to a far stricter standard. Fuck off with cutting the tops off mountains to strip mine coal. At the same time, we need to hold the EPA to a higher standard. They completely destroyed the Animas Fork in Colorado and when they knew pollutants were heading downstream, they opted not to notify the Navajo Nation or New Mexico. This resulted in the San Juan River getting equally fucked and the EPA being forced to truck water to the Navajo Nation.

But hey, don't worry about it, they're here to protect the environment. But if they fuck up, they'll refuse to pay for your losses from their fuck-ups.
Yeah... the EPA is a source for some of the worst lawfare going on today. (They're one of the biggest hindrances to infrastructure improvement.) I'd need to see a more sober analysis of whether rivers are about to catch on fire vs making an over grown bureaucracy be a little less tyrannical.

Endangered animals are endangered for a reason. If they can't adapt to live alongside humans we need to let evolution do it's thing.
I've said the same thing about humans and robots.

Literally 97% of climate scientists, numerous scientific organizations, and peer-reviewed studies have reached the consensus that human-influenced climate change is real but sure, it's "fake." Let's also ignore the fact that climate change denial is funded and lobbied by the fossil fuel industry.
Climate change happened before Man. It will keep happening long after Man. (Thankfully we superior robots are immune to most of it.)
 

Foxxo

OH LAWD HE COMING
kiwifarms.net
Literally 97% of climate scientists, numerous scientific organizations, and peer-reviewed studies have reached the consensus that human-influenced climate change is real but sure, it's "fake." Let's also ignore the fact that climate change denial is funded and lobbied by the fossil fuel industry.
You know that the studies chosen for that 97% statistic were cherry-picked, don't you?

And very few people are saying it's fake, most people who "deny" it just say that it's overblown by activists and politicians who need to pay their bills.
 

The Pink Panther

Think Like Pink
kiwifarms.net
Literally 97% of climate scientists, numerous scientific organizations, and peer-reviewed studies have reached the consensus that human-influenced climate change is real but sure, it's "fake." Let's also ignore the fact that climate change denial is funded and lobbied by the fossil fuel industry.
Well, it's not about denial, it's that it's not really that big of a problem...considering climate change is a natural thing and it's not really an issue that makes endangered animals close to extinct anyways.
 

Marchesa_ofthe_Vast

Mediocre Commentator
kiwifarms.net
You know that the studies chosen for that 97% statistic were cherry-picked, don't you?

And very few people are saying it's fake, most people who "deny" it just say that it's overblown by activists and politicians who need to pay their bills.
It's "97% of publishing climate scientists". The way they poll these things is wonky as well.

I'll start listening when a prediction comes true. At this point I've been told "x is going to happen " my whole life only for it to be Y every. single. time. For starters we aren't at the point of modeling clouds accurately for the purpose of modeling climate. The fundamental issue being that clouds are simultaneously enormous and able to block out countries and tiny in that they're made up of condensated water droplets.

You can believe that humans have an effect on climate but not take at face value the hollow alarmism.
 

wylfım

To live a lie, or die in a dream?
kiwifarms.net
Literally 97% of climate scientists, numerous scientific organizations, and peer-reviewed studies have reached the consensus that human-influenced climate change is real but sure, it's "fake." Let's also ignore the fact that climate change denial is funded and lobbied by the fossil fuel industry.
97% of the ⅓ that actually expressed an opinion. You tried, boo boo.
The things that climate scientists agree on are very narrow. They agree that the Earth is warming— they don't agree that that is human caused, that it is a bad thing, or that it is significant enough to bother worrying about. Try reading some Judith Curry.

Also unpopular opinion here but I really don't give a fuck about animals, they're nasty and annoying and for the most part pretty irrelevant.
Plants are actually doing great with a warmer environment and more CO₂, and plants are useful to everyone : D
 
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