Tag Archives: Endangered Species Act

Trump administration proposes revisions to Endangered Species Act

The Trump administration has proposed some regulatory revisions to Endangered Species Act that would scale back somewhat its sometime draconian powers.

The proposed regulatory changes are both technical and consequential. One, for instance, bears the deceptively dull title of “elimination of blanket 4(d) rule” (E&E News PM, 4 April). The ESA prohibits the “take” of species designated as endangered, while Section 4(d) of the law allows the agency to establish special regulations for threatened species. In 1978, FWS used this authority to extend the prohibition of take to all threatened species. This is known as the “blanket 4(d) rule.”

Take covers a wide range of actions, including those that “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect” a threatened or endangered species. This blanket 4(d) rule for threatened species can be modified by a species-specific 4(d) rule.

Conservatives and private-property advocates have previously sought to scale back the blanket 4(d) rule, which they say erases what should be a meaningful distinction between threatened and endangered species. The proposal would cover only future listings. “Some of our regulations were promulgated back in 1986, and frankly, a great deal has been learned by the agencies administering the act and by the public,” Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told reporters today.

Another change would establish that the “foreseeable future” definition used in making ESA listing decisions extends only so far as officials “can reasonably determine that the conditions posing the potential danger of extinction are probable.”

A potentially key change involves critical habitats, which are areas important for recovery of a species. Sometimes an area can be considered important for recovery even when it is not currently occupied by the species in question. Under the new proposal, FWS and NOAA Fisheries will designate unoccupied critical habitat only when the occupied areas are inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species or if inclusion of unoccupied areas would yield certain other specified benefits.

In some “rare” cases, officials say, there may be no critical habitat designated.

The article above, from the journal Science, shocked me by its reasonable discussion of these proposed changes. I had expected an anti-Trump screed, similar to the original version of this Daily Mail article from yesterday. Today it reads more reasonably, but yesterday the article was far more devoted to airing opposition to the Trump proposals.

No matter. There is madness out there, it has taken possession of the entire anti-Trump community. It won’t make a difference how reasonable the administration’s proposals might be, there will be over-the-top declarations about the evils of these proposals and how they will destroy everything.

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Grizzly bear no longer endangered in Yellowstone

Good news! Federal wildlife officials have determined that the grizzly bear population in and around Yellowstone has recovered so well that they have the option of removing the species from the endangered species list.

The latest count of grizzlies in the Yellowstone region puts the estimated population of the hump-shouldered bruins at just over 750, well exceeding the government’s recovery goal of 500 animals, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That compares with just 136 believed left in the Yellowstone ecosystem – encompassing parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – when grizzlies were formally listed as threatened throughout the Lower 48 states in 1975, after they were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near extinction.

Not surprisingly, the article notes how environmental and American Indian groups oppose changing the bear’s status. Want to bet that they win the day and the bear remains endangered? Science really has very little to do with the endangered species act these days. It is all politics.

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EPA violated Endangered Species Act in Colorado

The law is for the little people: The EPA violated the Endangered Species Act when it began work on the Animas River spill without first consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Turns out that it is very illegal, as in, criminal and civil charges illegal, when someone does not consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service prior to undertaking a project that poses a threat to endangered critters. In this case, downstream fish.

But, but, but, we didn’t mean to spill all of that acid and lead and whatnot into the river, stammered EPA Chief Gina McCarthy.

That didn’t satisfy GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, and reminded her repeatedly that the EPA had been warned for more than a year that a blowout was imminent, and therefore consultation on endangered species was required by law before work began at the mine. [emphasis in original]

It turns out that the EPA did not begin the process, required by law, until last night, more than a month after the spill and well after their work began. I wonder how they would treat a private landowner or business who so cavalierly ignored the law.

Also, the head of the Interior Department, Sally Jewell, refused to appear for Congressional hearings, while the EPA head, Gina McCarthy, demanded that she not have to sit next to other witnesses, all of whom were there to describe the disaster her agency has brought down upon them. Moreover, during McCarthy’s testimony she said that no one at the EPA would be held criminally responsible for the spill.

But hey, isn’t the government’s the best way to do things? That’s what Democrats keep telling us. And we believe them, of course, blindly, without question.

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To environmentalists no warming and more bears means global warming and an endangered species

A U.S. Geological Survey science team has determined that the grizzly bear population has recovered enough that the bear can be taken off the endangered species list.

A report delivered in November by the US Geological Survey’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team describes a resilient and healthy bear population that has adapted to the loss of pine nuts by eating more elk and bison, keeping fat stores at levels that allow the bears to survive and reproduce. For Christopher Servheen, a biologist who oversees grizzly-bear recovery efforts at the Fish and Wildlife Service in Missoula, Montana, that is not surprising. “Bears are flexible,” he says. “It’s easier to say what they don’t eat than what they do eat.”

Not surprisingly, environmental activists don’t like this decision. They claim that, wait for it, global warming threatens the bear enough that it should not be delisted.
» Read more

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Why the Endangered Species act doesn’t work

Why the Endangered Species Act doesn’t work.

[R]adical green groups . . . [are] engaged in an industry whose waste products are fish and wildlife. You and I are a major source of revenue for that industry. The Interior Department must respond within 90 days to petitions to list species under the Endangered Species Act. Otherwise, petitioners like the Center for Biological Diversity get to sue and collect attorney fees from the Justice Department.

And this:

Amos Eno runs the hugely successful Yarmouth, Maine-based Resources First Foundation, an outfit that, among other things, assists ranchers who want to restore native ecosystems. Earlier, he worked at Interior’s Endangered Species Office, crafting amendments to strengthen the law, then went on to direct the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Eno figures the feds could “recover and delist three dozen species” with the resources they spend responding to the Center for Biological Diversity’s litigation.

“The amount of money [Center for Biological Diversity] makes suing is just obscene,” he told me. “They’re one of the reasons the Endangered Species Act has become so dysfunctional. They deserve the designation of eco-criminals.”

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