For Immediate Release, August 21, 2023
Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395, email@example.com
More Than 140,000 Americans Call on Biden Administration to Restore Endangered Species Act
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity joined more than 140,000 people today urging the Biden administration to restore the full power of the Endangered Species Act. The public comments submitted today are in response to the Biden administration’s proposal to retain most of the Trump-era regulations that severely weakened protections for our nation’s most imperiled animals and plants.
“It’s shameful that the Biden administration is standing by the disastrous anti-conservation, pro-industry changes that Trump used to gut the Endangered Species Act,” said Stephanie Kurose, senior endangered species policy specialist at the Center. “The American people overwhelmingly support stronger protections for our most endangered animals and plants. We hope this public outcry serves as a wakeup call for this administration to change course and take bold, transformative action to stem the extinction crisis and save life on Earth.”
In 2019 the Trump administration finalized the most significant regulatory rollbacks to the Act in its 50-year history. Instead of rescinding these rollbacks in their entirety, the Biden administration in June proposed to keep most of the 2019 changes that continue to significantly hinder the federal government’s ability to protect imperiled species and their habitats.
Of the 38 Trump-era changes to the Act’s regulations, the Biden administration proposes fixing only seven. Those include restoring protections for threatened species and prohibiting consideration of economic impacts when deciding whether to protect species. It also removes barriers to designating unoccupied areas as critical habitat.
However, many of the worst Trump rollbacks will remain on the books. The Biden administration proposal retains a number of harmful provisions governing the responsibility of federal agencies to avoid jeopardizing protected species or harming their critical habitat. In particular, it requires federal actions to affect species’ critical habitat “as a whole” before real habitat protections are put in place. This is particularly harmful for wide-ranging animals like the northern spotted owl, polar bear or gulf sturgeon that have large critical habitat designations but are still at risk of extinction.
The proposal also lets federal agencies off the hook for past harms to endangered species from things like dam or highway construction by deeming these projects part of the “environmental baseline.”
“President Biden voted for the Endangered Species Act when he was a senator back in 1973 and has seen how well it’s worked over the last 50 years,” said Kurose. “We expect more from this administration. It’s time to repeal all the Trump regulations and strengthen the Act’s implementation to ensure another 50 years of success.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.