Endangered Species Act gets another makeover

Submitted Photo While they remain listed as endangered, federal officials say the whooping crane’s recovery from the brink of extinction is one of the most notable successes under the Endangered Species Act. Photo from Adobe Stock.

The Biden administration is moving forward with plans it says will strengthen the Endangered Species Act, after it saw a major overhaul under former President Donald Trump.

Those calling for more protections have a mixed outlook.

Environmental and conservation groups voiced strong opposition to the 2019 changes carried out by the Trump administration, arguing they gutted core elements of the longstanding law.

Last week, Biden’s staff announced its reinstating blanket protections for threatened species. And language dealing with economic interests was removed.

Susan Holmes with the Endangered Species Coalition said those moves are helpful, but further action is needed.

“The regulations repair some of the holes,” said Holmes, “but still leave some big holes in that safety net.”

A change not being reversed is a rollback concerning critical habitat, and Holmes said that poses challenges for migratory species. She pointed to the comeback of the whooping crane as progress that could be derailed.

North Dakota provides important stopover habitat for the birds.

Republican leaders are critical of the new revisions, saying crucial reforms are being tossed aside.

Various industries have long called for looser regulations under the law. If Trump wins the 2024 race for the White House, it’s expected they’ll make a renewed push to reverse Biden’s changes.

Holmes says Congress can help mitigate this back-and-forth cycle by boosting funding for the Endangered Species Act.

“We are seeing a shrinking of the amount of wildlife that we have,” said Holmes, “and because of climate change and the bio-diversity crisis, wildlife are really having a hard time. “

Other wildlife organizations suggest the Biden administration should have acted much sooner to restore protections.

Before publishing the final rules, federal officials said they received nearly half a million public comments.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today