Jun 4, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Biden administration reverses Trump rollbacks of species protections

Photo of an aerial view showing a kayaker with a right whale right underneath the water

A bowhead whale and a surfer. The population of the endangered whales is 10,000. Photo: Yuri Smityuk/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration said Friday it will revise or reverse a slate of Trump-era actions that rolled back protections for endangered or threatened species.

Why it matters: The move to strengthen the Endangered Species Act — credited with the recovery of the bald eagle, humpback whale and grizzly bear, among others — comes amid a worldwide decline in biodiversity, according to United Nations scientists.

Details: The administration will reverse Trump-era regulations that:

  • Made it easier to remove protections for threatened species like the American burying beetle, an action advocated by oil and gas drillers who have to work around the insect, per the Washington Post.
  • Allowed wildlife officials to consider the economic cost of conserving a species before deciding whether to add it to an endangered species list.
  • Withdrew a rule that automatically extends protections for endangered species to those listed as threatened.

What they're saying: "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," Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams said in a statement.

The big picture: Species extinction rates are accelerating, according to a 2019 report by UN experts.

  • Roughly one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, "more than ever before in human history."
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