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The Environment: Greed Remains in Control

Federally endangered Nihoa Millerbird. Photo credit: Mark MacDonald/USFWS

In another example of unvarnished greed being in control in Washington, the Trump administration is continuing its assault on America's environment by stripping the longstanding Endangered Species Act (ESA) from provisions intended to protect wildlife.

The proposal, announced jointly by the Interior and Commerce departments, which are charged with protecting endangered wildlife, would end the practice of extending protections to species regardless of whether they are listed as endangered or threatened. If the proposal is approved, protections for threatened plants and animals would be made on a case-by-case basis, The Washington Post reports.

In its announcement, complete with the pretty picture of the federally endangered Nihoa Millerbird above, the Fish and Wildlife service said: "The Service proposes to remove its blanket rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that automatically conveys the same protections for threatened species as for endangered species.

"This change will not affect the protections for species currently listed as threatened, but will ensure that species listed as threatened in the future receive the protections tailored to the species' individual conservation needs."

The Trump administration also wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to strike language that guides officials to ignore economic impacts when determining how wildlife should be protected.

In other words, economic impacts will now be considered when determining wildlife protection when construction projects and the like are undertaken. That means money -- greed -- will rule. Yes, sometimes it seems almost silly to block a badly needed highway because it would disturb the nesting grounds of some imperiled species, but where does it end? What rules? In the case of the Trump administration, the answer is clear and easy: Greed.

“These regulations are the heart of how the Endangered Species Act is implemented. Imperiled species depend on them for their very lives,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, who was director of the Fish and Wildlife Service under President Bill Clinton, according to The Post. Clark is now president and chief executive of Defenders of Wildlife, a nonprofit advocacy group.

“These proposals would slam a wrecking ball into the most crucial protections for our most endangered wildlife,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If these regulations had been in place in the 1970s, the bald eagle and the gray whale would be extinct today. If they’re finalized now, (Interior Secretary Ryan) Zinke will go down in history as the extinction secretary.”

The proposed changes will be posted to the Federal Register in a matter of days. The Trump administration has invited public comment on the rules, which will be open for 60 days on after they are posted.

This new policy is a continuation of the attack on the environment that was launched almost immediately by Trump and his lieutenants. Many of the actions roll back Obama-era policies that aimed to curb climate change and limit pollution, while others threaten to limit federal funding for science and the environment.

Here's a recounting of some of the administration's anti-environmental actions from National Geographic.

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