Want to make an environmental extremist cry? Propose any changes at all to the Endangered Species Act.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking some modest changes in the ESA, hoping to give more clarification to business and simplify the rules. But listening to greens on the subject, you would think that the administration was going allow the mass murder of species that are threatened.
“A death sentence for polar bears,” said Brett Hartl, the government affairs director at the Centre for Biological Diversity. Hartl continued, “Cumulatively, when you put all of these proposals together what you’re seeing is a dramatic reduction of protections afforded to endangered species… Moving forward, threatened species will live in a world where they get almost no protections, making their recovery all the more difficult.”
Oh, really? Here is what the agency is proposing.
Among the proposed changes announced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Thursday is allowing officials to consider economic impact when enforcing the ESA.
“We propose to remove the phrase, ‘without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination'” the proposal states.
Another suggested shift in the policy would also end the service’s practice of providing future “threatened” species with the same protections as endangered species automatically. Instead, protections for future threatened species will be determined by “the species’ individual conservation needs.”
CNN first reported in April that the Fish and Wildlife Service was proposing a repeal of the so-called blanket rule. Critics say removing blanket protections will mire the process of protecting threatened species in years of bureaucracy.
Imagine that. Taking economic considerations of human society into account when judging how best to conserve a species? The horror!
And how can these beasts in the administration think that they should treat threatened species the same way regardless of their habitat or their range?
“While this provision is intended to reduce the burden of regulation in rare circumstances in which designation of critical habitat does not contribute to the conservation of the species, the Services recognize the value of critical habitat as a conservation tool and expect to designate it in most cases,” the proposal says.
“One thing we heard over and over again was that ESA implementation was not consistent and often times very confusing to navigate,” Greg Sheehan, the US Fish and Wildlife Service principal deputy director, said in a statement.
Sheehan said the proposed changes are “to produce the best conservation results for the species while reducing the regulatory burden on the American people.”
How much does the ESA need to be reformed? The link above to the CNN story features a bald eagle soaring in the sky, intimating that the administration wants bald eagles to go extinct.
The bald eagle was removed from the endangered list in 2007.
Other outlets also used the bald eagle as the poster child for endangered species. The gaffe represents the reason why the ESA needs to be reinterpreted and changed. There is great misunderstanding on what the ESA can and should do.
Some critters are becoming extinct in one region while only “threatened” in another. Should the entire species be put on the list? It’s not an easy question — unless you’re an environmental fanatic who prefers animal life to human life.
We share this planet with some breathtakingly beautiful species. When at all possible, we should work to protect that life as a statement to our children and grandchildren that we will bequeath them a natural world every bit as wondrous and beautiful as it is now.
But species are going extinct all the time and to point the finger solely at humans is absurd in most instances. There are cases where we should do everything we can to protect our natural world, even if it costs us in economic development. But it is not necessary or right to save all endangered species all the time.