Journalist: Tessa Altman Editor: Steven Farrar
While the Trump Administration has received plenty of criticism due to its policies regarding human beings, Donald Trump has recently named another target: endangered species. This past week, the administration announced their proposal to limit the longstanding protection of these endangered animals.
The Endangered Species Act
President Nixon signed The Endangered Species Act into law in 1973, and since then, it has always had a large number of supporters. In fact, a study done by Ohio State University shows that four out of five Americans still back the act. The act does three main things: identify species that are endangered or threatened, provides necessary habitats for those species, and nurtures a process that ensures their survival but also their ability to recover their population in large numbers.
It’s a noble act, one that is credited with saving the Bald Eagle. However, this act could lose its power due to the anti-regulatory stance of the president and his administration. If the president gets his way, we could even lose the Cross River Gorilla.
Despite considerable support from the public, Republicans have long taken issue with the act and have wanted to limit its functions claiming it restricts economic development. This excuse makes their thinking clear: money matters more than the lives of innocent animals.
Some critics have argued the Endangered Species Act has not been successful, pointing to the fact that only 3% of nearly 1,600 species on the list have recovered enough to be removed. This argument completely ignores that such recovery takes time and the removal of any percentage from the list is a huge victory.
When David Bernhardt, the deputy secretary of the Interior Department, announced the Trump Administration’s amendments to the Endangered Species Act, it became immediately apparent that none of their proposals would bode well for endangered wildlife.
Despite Bernhardt’s claims that the changes will enhance the protection of those species, the implications of the proposals say otherwise. Besides limiting protections for threatened species, which are one category lower than endangered, new policies could also make it easier for construction projects to be approved. In turn, habitats for those species could be harmed.
Catering to Business over Endangered Wildlife
The plans the administration has for the Endangered Species Act are selfish attempts to cater to businesses while disregarding the potential impact on endangered wildlife and their habitats. These developments clearly benefit the oil and gas companies, timber industry, and others who have been vocal critics of the Endangered Species Act.
The Endangered Species Act was not put in place for frivolous reasons, nor was it specifically created to prevent development, as some naysayers argue. Its goal has always been simple: to protect animals (and plants) from extinction because they are important parts of our world.
Over the last 50 or so years, nearly half of the animals on Earth have been lost. The Endangered Species Act has allowed us to protect the other half. Without it, who’s to say what will become threatened or endangered next?
Animals’ lives are at stake – we shouldn’t risk losing so many more.