Overnight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses

Overnight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses

YOU’RE NOT ON THE LIST: The rate of listing new endangered and threatened species has slowed under the Trump administration, a trend that highlights an administrative push to shrink the number of animals ultimately placed on the endangered species list.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal Trump says he'll look into small business loan program restricting casinos MORE has finalized just 21 species for federal protections in his first nearly three years in office – less than a third of the number finalized under former President Obama during the same period and fewer than previous Republican presidents.

Obama listed 71 species during the same period in his tenure, while former President George W. Bush listed 25 and President George H.W. Bush listed 146, according to public figures collected by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

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Environmentalists and conservationists assert that the drop in listings under Trump is an indicator of the administration's close relationship with industry, preferring to keep species delisted rather than protected.

“I think that it is related to an antipathy in the Trump administration for protecting endangered species or for environmental protections all together,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the CBD.

The administration does not reject that it favors fewer listings under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a law codified in 1973 to act as a last-ditch effort to save diminishing plant and animal species. Recent moves have indicated a desire to place less emphasis on the ESA and to give protections provided under it less weight as well.

The Trump administration in August finalized a controversial rollback of protections for endangered species that included allowing economic factors to be weighed before adding an animal to the list. That could include how protecting a species or its habitat might hinder the operations of the oil and gas industry, foresters and many other operations that work on or near federal lands.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which handles the listings, says that under Trump the priority is to stop listings from occurring in the first place, arguing that the endangered species list alone is not an accurate indicator of federal action being taken for species protection.

Read more here.

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BOMBS AWAY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday authorized the use of "cyanide bombs" to protect livestock against wild animals after adding additional safety requirements in response to backlash from environmental groups.

The new requirements call for increased distances between where the M-44 chemical trap devices can be placed. Advocacy groups had raised concerns in August when the previous proposal was announced.

The EPA's earlier authorization for use of the devices — to manage populations of coyotes, foxes and other wild animals — was withdrawn a week after it was introduced, with the agency saying further analysis was needed.

“Through our discussions, we identified new restrictions that will raise awareness and create additional buffers around where M-44s are placed, which will reduce the potential for unintended impacts on humans, pets, and other non-target animals,” EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Alexandra Dunn said in a statement.

The new restrictions require a 600-foot buffer around residences but make exceptions for landowners who have given permission for placement of the devices on their property.

The restrictions also call for 300 feet between public paths and roads where the devices cannot be used, up from the current 100 feet.

But the revisions have not appeased groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, a vocal opponent of the August proposal.

Collette Adkins, a conservation director at the organization, said the EPA’s “appalling decision” to approve the "cyanide bombs" threatens people, pets and imperiled animals.

“The EPA imposed a few minor restrictions, but these deadly devices have just wreaked too much havoc to remain in use. To truly protect humans and wildlife from these poisonous contraptions, we need a nationwide ban,” Adkins said in a statement Thursday.

Read more here.

WATCHDOG REPORT DINGS EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not conduct required analyses for a proposed repeal of an Obama-era rule, an internal government watchdog has found. 

The EPA's inspector general's office said in a report issued Thursday that then-EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' Court sides with scientists on EPA policy barring grantees from serving on agency boards Overnight Energy: Senate energy bill stalled amid amendment fight | Coronavirus, oil prices drive market meltdown | Green groups say Dem climate plan doesn't go far enough MORE directed the Office of Air and Radiation to develop the proposed rule "without conducting the analyses required" by executive orders.

The EPA in 2017 proposed rescinding the part of an Obama-era regulation regarding emission standards for “glider trucks,” or new trucks with older engines that do not meet current air pollution rules.

The lack of analyses resulted in the public not being informed on the proposed change's "benefits, costs, potential alternatives and impacts on children’s health during the public comment period," the inspector general's report said. 

The report, which cited EPA managers and officials, said that Pruitt pushed for the proposed repeal to be put forth "as quickly as possible."

One agency official told the watchdog that Pruitt had requested that all rulemakings be done as quickly as possible. 

The inspector general's office also quoted EPA officials saying that at the time, rulemaking processes were being done “fast and loose,” and describing the atmosphere as the “wild west.”

In response, the agency said it would conduct the required analyses, include them in the public docket and give the public a way to comment on them. 

Pruitt said in a statement when the repeal was pitched that the Obama-era rule "threatened to put an entire industry of specialized truck manufacturers out of business.”

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Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

Protester dressed as Santa arrested while delivering coal to P&G headquarters, WLWT reports.

California bans insurers from dropping policies made riskier by climate change, The New York Times reports.

Scottish Power to add solar and battery power to wind farms, BBC reports.

ICYMI: Stories from Thursday

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-GM among partners planning $2.3B battery plant in Ohio

-EPA authorizes use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock against predators

-Rubio places hold on number-two Interior nominee over offshore drilling

-EPA didn't conduct required analyses of truck engine rule: internal watchdog

-Youth climate activists grade top 2020 Democrats on Green New Deal commitment

-Rate of new endangered species listings declines under Trump

-States slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study