Energy & Environment

Administration ending rule that made industry pay for damages to key animal habitat

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The Trump administration is ending an Obama-era practice of mandating that industry alleviate the destruction of key habitats for endangered species by paying the government.

The Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Friday the withdrawal of the compensatory mitigation policy for the Endangered Species Act, which directed the agency to set a “net-benefit” goal for natural resources extraction on public land.

The reversal announcement reads that the species and habitat destruction off-set policy is no longer consistent with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s order to focus on promotion of energy independence.

{mosads}That order “directed Department of the Interior bureaus to reexamine mitigation policies and practices to better balance conservation strategies and policies with job creation for American families,” the rule reads.

The administration argues that tying a monetary fine with endangered species habitat destruction could lead to abuse of the policy against industry.

“Because by definition compensatory mitigation does not directly avoid or minimize the anticipated harm, its application is particularly ripe for abuse,” the decision reads.

The action writes that, due to the fact that the net benefit idea is written throughout the entire mitigation policy, it has determined to remove the policy in its entirety.

Bloomberg first reported on the anticipated policy change on Tuesday following an interview with Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Bernhard said habitat destruction would still be considered in vetting permits.

“We still in every decision we make say ‘Have we avoided impacts? Have we minimized impacts?’” Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told Bloomberg. “We will still do that but when it comes to doing compensatory mitigation off-site we will say that needs to be voluntary.”

The policy change is the latest in a number of administration changes that affect the Endangered Species Act, including a rule proposal submitted that week that would significantly roll-back the implementation of the decades old law.

Tags Drilling Endangered Species Act Interior Department public lands Ryan Zinke
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