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The automatic protection policy of threatened and endangered plants and animals is in danger of being overturned by the Trump administration, according to NBC News.
Administration officials announced Thursday a new policy will reduce “conflict and uncertainty” surrounding species' statuses. Wildlife experts aren't so sure.
“It essentially turns every listing of a species into a negotiation,” Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity told NBC. “They could decide that building in a species habitat or logging in trees where birds nest doesn't constitute harm.”
The proposal specifically targets the Endangered Species Act, which was established in 1973. While the plan isn't to eradicate the act completely, it does aim to make many changes.
Wildlife advocates and Democrats are worried the proposed changes would accelerate extinction rates.
The Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund tweeted Thursday in criticism of the proposal:
The Trump administration's proposal to “reform” the ESA will only put endangered animals at a greater risk. The proposal is a dangerous rollback that will make it easier to de-list endangered species and harder to protect them. https://t.co/DQmKc9x0ut
— NRDC 🌎 (@NRDC) July 19, 2018
The revisions proposed today to the Endangered Species Act would weaken protections for threatened and endangered species and put our planet’s wildlife further at risk https://t.co/8gHW1j6vla
— WWF News (@WWFnews) July 19, 2018
One particular species threatened by the plan is the monarch butterfly, which is currently under consideration for protection through the Endangered Species Act.
However, U.S. Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt ensured that the new rules will be “very protective.”
This isn't the first move the administration has made that has angered environmentalists. Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been under heavy scrutiny by Democrats and environmental activists alike.
The latest worry is over the EPA's acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, who was formerly a lobbyist for the coal industry. Earlier this month, the EPA proposed a new rule that favored coal companies, hurting the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.