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Oppose Changes to Federal Regulations Governing the Endangered Species Act

Oppose Changes to Federal Regulations Governing the Endangered Species Act

Name: Proposed Federal Regulations Undermining the Endangered Species Act

On July 19, three separate changes were proposed to federal regulations that would lessen the protections to animals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended.

Federal laws, such as the ESA, are passed by Congress and can only be amended by another Act of Congress. When laws are proposed, members of the public reach out to elected officials to make their voice heard.

Regulations, which contain the details of how laws will be implemented, are proposed by government agencies—which is a function of the Executive branch of government—to implement, modify or reinterpret a law after that law is established. In the case of the ESA, the Department of Interior is responsible, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for implementing the laws as they pertain to land animals. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) implements the law affecting with marine plants and animals.

To summarize, the proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act would: 

  • Remove habitat protection for threatened species and, instead, to decide case-by-case whether to protect habitats of threatened species.
  • Allow authorities to include the economic impact of protecting endangered and threatened species regulations, giving corporate interests consideration in making these decisions.
  • Remove protections now extended to “threatened” species to prevent their decline into endangered status.

 

Three separate proposed rules were published and await public comment.

  1. The first redefines “Destruction or Adverse Modification” regarding critical habitat for endangered and threatened species to modify the criteria for determining whether physical or biological features should be used in deciding whether a particular habitat is critical. The rule would also eliminate the need for independent consultation where it would be “impractical” and where the costs would be a burden.

  2. The ESA generally requires that critical habitat is designated, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, when determining that a species is either endangered or threatened. The second proposed rule would allow economic factors to be considered in designating critical habitat instead of relying solely on the best scientific data available. It would also create more circumstances in which it would be “not prudent” to designate particular lands as critical habitat. This proposed rule would also change the criteria for delisting endangered and threatened species, including reevaluating whether the animals belong to an actual species (as opposed to a sub-species). Species listed as threatened would have a higher bar to demonstrate that they are at risk of becoming endangered “in the foreseeable future,” as this standard is redefined with more short-term forecasts.
  3. The last proposed rule removes protections guaranteed to endangered species from those species that are listed as “threatened,” despite a long-standing extension of ESA protections to both endangered and threatened species. This action purports to affect only species listed as threatened in the future. However, under proposed regulations, all threatened and endangered species will be reevaluated for continued listing, so every species listed as “threatened” will become a new listing. In those cases, species-specific rules would be applied. Members of experimental populations would continue to be listed as “threatened” with existing population-specific regulations left in place.

 

Call to Actions:

  1. Please contact Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and tell him to stop messing with the success of the Endangered Species Act.
  2. Spread the word! Share this page with your social network.

 

Recipients

  • Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke

Contact

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Message

Save the Endangered Species Act from Endangerment

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to ask you to withdraw from consideration proposed rulemaking that will undermine the good work of the Endangered Species Act. The provisions introduced on July 19, 2018 would lessen the protections offered by the ESA for both endangered and threatened species and their critical habitats.

Decades of work and millions of dollars have been spent on ensuring that imperiled wildlife do not become extinct in the U.S. There have been many successes to these efforts, most prominently the recovery of the American Bald Eagle. These efforts worked because the ESA offered protection and support to critical habitat protection, and to recovery efforts to bring animals back from the brink of extinction.

The proposed rules clearly put the interests of business development ahead of the interests of wildlife. The American people, who comprise a majority of stakeholders in the issue of wildlife preservation, strongly support efforts to preserve species, and not to abandon the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife that has proven so successful in this respect.

Your position as Secretary of Interior brings with it a responsibility to preserve and protect our country and its resources. These proposed rules do neither.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]