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Time's Running Out To Comment On Changes To Endangered Species Act

David P. Whelan

WASHINGTON - Time is almost up to put in your two cents on the Trump Administration's slate of changes that conservation groups say will weaken the Endangered Species Act - The public comment period ends this Monday, . 

The feds argue that the Act as it's currently written unnecessarily holds up worthy commercial projects. But Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition, said the law has successfully staved off extinction for 99 percent of the species on the list. She said the changes would favor industry profits over the survival of species like Joshua trees, monarch butterflies, bald eagles, moose, polar bears and bumblebees.

"They will make it harder to protect wildlife, harder to protect habitat, more difficult to help species adapt to climate change," Huta said. "So, from just every perspective, we're really in trouble."

Right now, species that are listed as threatened are automatically protected. The new proposal would lift that blanket protection until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues specific rules for that species, which could take months or years. 

Huta warned that if these changes are approved, big industrial projects would be able to get permits more quickly and would need to make fewer efforts to avoid harming or killing endangered species.

"Large corporations - the oil and gas industry, in particular - has been fighting endangered species protections for decades," she observe. "And other extractive industries will see great benefit to them from having fewer protections for endangered species."

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