Energy & Environment

WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species

The Washington Post on Friday lambasted the Trump administration's "shabby hostility" toward science, calling the president and his Cabinet a "threat" to endangered species.

The paper's editorial board condemned the administration's move to rewrite the decades-old Endangered Species Act, arguing that President Trump and the federal government have "earned little trust" that it would use the flexibility to wisely define plans for each threatened or endangered species.

"This is an administration that regularly derides experts and ignores environmental facts - see, for example, its avowed effort to cut experts from the Agriculture Department by relocating their jobs away from Washington," the board wrote.

The editorial board slammed comments by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross claiming that the rule's rewrite would merely streamline the Endangered Species Act and allow for resources to be spent wisely.

"That sounds plausible, in theory. Given this administration's shabby hostility toward science and expertise, it is more than worrisome in practice," the board wrote.

The editorial comes after the Trump administration announced its rewrite of the conservation law on Monday, setting off alarm bells in the environmentalist community.

Experts and advocates have warned that the rewrite could threaten efforts to preserve the monarch butterfly and other struggling species that haven't yet been officially labeled "endangered." 

A new provision of the rule allows the administration to assign costs to protecting individual species. The changes also end blanket policies protecting all species designated as "threatened" in favor of crafting individual plans for each species.

Critics have cautioned that those provisions, as well as a change that would compel the government to deal with threats to species only in the "foreseeable" future, will remove some crucial protections for threatened species and slow-walk the process of determining whether a species is threatened.

"To some landowners seeking to develop their property, the Endangered Species Act no doubt looms as a frustrating bureaucratic hurdle," The Post's editorial board wrote. "But it exists to ensure that short-term economic considerations do not result in long-term and irreversible ecological damage. It is fair to worry that the Trump administration is once again seeking to focus on the former and ignore the latter."

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