Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 30, 2020


Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495,

Trump Administration Proposes Rule to Solidify Its Policy of Allowing Widespread Bird-killing at Industrial Sites

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Trump administration proposed a rule today to allow indiscriminate killing of birds at industrial sites across the country, including oil and gas operations.

The rule, proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, codifies a legal opinion put in place in December 2017 by the solicitor of the Department of the Interior and former Koch Industries employee, Daniel Jorjoni. This opinion dictated that “incidental killing” of birds is no longer prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act — a policy that runs counter to decades of enforcement.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies, which include eight states, are challenging the legal opinion in federal court. On Jan. 24 a group of former Interior and Fish and Wildlife Service officials filed an amicus brief in support of our position. The Center will certainly challenge the Service’s rule when it is finalized.

“The Trump administration is doubling down on a cruel policy that has already resulted in the deaths of many birds,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “This policy benefits only the Trump administration’s benefactors in the oil and gas industries.”

If finalized the rule would mean that when corporate polluters construct waste ponds, cause oil spills, build power lines or take other actions that kill birds, they will not have to minimize or mitigate those deaths.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, for example, is estimated to have killed more than a million birds. BP paid in excess of $100 million in fines to support wetland and migratory bird conservation because of those deaths. If the Trump administration’s policy had been in place at the time, the company would not have had to pay for the damage it caused.

“With a recent study finding there are 3 billion fewer birds in North America than 50 years ago, you’d think we’d want more protection for birds, not less,” said Greenwald. “This rule violates the trust and will of millions of Americans who love birds and want them around for future generations to enjoy.”

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.

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