Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback

Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback
© Getty Images

Democrats are fighting back against a Trump administration rule that scraps numerous protections for endangered species.

Legislation filed in the House on Tuesday would rescind a rule announced by the Department of the Interior in August that rolls back the Endangered Species Act (ESA), dramatically scaling back America’s landmark conservation law.


The regulation allows economic considerations to be shared before adding an animal to the list, limits protections for threatened species and limits how factors such as climate change can be considered in listing decisions as well as in the review process used before projects are approved on their habitat.

The regulation was panned by Democrats and environmental groups, some of which have already filed suit to challenge the rule.

“The Trump administration’s new regulations intentionally cripple the ESA – another giveaway to industry that puts near-term profits ahead of our long-term national interest. The Trump effort to gut the Endangered Species Act turns a blind eye to the science that tells us we should be enhancing wildlife habitat protections not dismantling them at the behest of special interests,” said Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Judge tosses land management plans after ousting Pendley from role | Trump says he could out-raise Biden with calls to Wall Street, oil execs | Supreme Court to review Trump border wall funding, asylum policies OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Pendley says court decision ousting him from BLM has had 'no impact' | Court strikes down Obama-era rule targeting methane leaks from public lands drilling | Feds sued over no longer allowing polluters to pay for environmental projects  Pendley says court decision ousting him from BLM has had 'no impact' MORE (D-N.M), one of the sponsors of the legislation.

The resolution, which seeks to void the Trump administration regulation, is also being sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Democratic Reps. Don Beyer (Va.) and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellCedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins Pelosi, Mnuchin continue COVID-19 talks amid dwindling odds for deal Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair MORE (Mich.).

Critics say the Trump administration rule was especially startling in the wake of a United Nations report estimating there are 1 million species threatened with extinction due to human activity.

“We are in the middle of an extinction crisis, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE is bulldozing the most important tool we have to protect endangered species,” Grijalva said in a statement. “If we want to protect species close to extinction, Congress has no choice but to act.”

A spokesman for Interior said, "We will continue to be steadfast in our implementation and improvement of the Endangered Species Act with the unchanging goal of conserving and recovering our most imperiled species."   

The department described the new regulation last month as a modernization of the Endangered Species Act, saying it was "designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century."

Environmental groups came out in support of the Democratic bill Tuesday.

"Now is not the time to ignore science and gamble away the nation's natural history and heritage over some misguided anti-Endangered Species Act agenda," Nora Apter, deputy director of federal affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

"Climate change and a wave of other threats are wiping out species across the globe right now. This critical legislation would rightfully revoke the Trump administration’s reckless rollback of our most important law for protecting our most imperiled species," she added.

Updated: 7:15 p.m.