- Federal agencies are working to reverse Trump-era rollbacks on the Endangered Species Act.
- In 2018, the Interior Dept. revealed changes to the ESA that put some species at risk of extinction.
- GOP critics said rescinding the rollbacks will allow environmental groups “to weaponize the ESA.”
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The Biden administration is set to reverse Trump-era rollbacks on endangered species protections “in the coming months,” federal agencies announced Friday.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service said in a statement Friday that, per an executive order, the Biden administration “directed all federal agencies to review and address” environmental policy rollbacks enacted during the Trump administration.
The federal agencies are tasked with initiating “rulemaking in the coming months to revise, rescind, or reinstate” five regulations on the Endangered Species Act that were put into place by former President Donald Trump.
In 2018, then-Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a set of changes to the Endangered Species Act, undermining the protections of the act and putting several threatened species at risk of extinction. According to a press release, the agencies plan to rescind regulations on critical habitat designations and reinstate protections for threatened plants and animals.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to working with diverse federal, Tribal, state and industry partners to not only protect and recover America’s imperiled wildlife but to ensure cornerstone laws like the Endangered Species Act are helping us meet 21st century challenges,” Martha Williams, principal deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement.
“We look forward to continuing these conservation collaborations and to ensuring our efforts are fully transparent and inclusive,” Williams continued.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland had previously said rescinding the Trump-era rollbacks on the ESA was at the top of her priorities as head of the agency.
The move to reverse the Trump-era regulations brought backlash from Republicans, including Rep. Bruce Westerman, the top GOP lawmaker on the House Natural Resources Committee.
“By reinstating burdensome regulations, this administration has once again opened the door for environmental groups to weaponize the ESA and use it to delay critical projects across the country,” Westerman said in a statement. “These changes will result in greater inefficiency in the federal permitting process and reduce incentives for proactive conservation.”