Trump administration faces lawsuit for hurting endangered animals to help big business


New rules targeting endangered species are the latest in a Trump push to ignore climate change science.

The Trump administration is going to be sued over changes to the Endangered Species Act that raise the threat of extinction for endangered animals and ignore the destructive power of climate change.

Earthjustice, an environmental legal group, gave the administration notice for the impending legal action after the new rules were finalized on Monday.

"This effort to gut protections for endangered and threatened species has the same two features of most Trump administration actions: it's a gift to industry, and it's illegal. We'll see the Trump administration in court," Drew Caputo, Earthjustice vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife, and oceans, said in a statement.

The Natural Resources Defense Council also indicated that they would pursue legal action against Trump.

"This Administration seems set on damaging fragile ecosystems by prioritizing industry interests over science," Rebecca Riley, legal director for the group, said. "We intend to fight these regulatory rollbacks so that we can preserve the natural world for generations to come."

The new rules are the latest in a line of actions by Republicans to give in to big business and its desire to roll back the protections enshrined by the Endangered Species Act, which was put in place in 1972, under the Nixon administration, and has been vital in preserving species like the bald eagle, a national symbol of America.

"The new rules would very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live," the New York Times reported.

Key in the new approach is removing climate change as one of the factors used in considering how to protect individual species.

The changes "straitjacket the scientists to take climate change out of consideration," former Deputy Interior Secretary David J. Hayes told the Times. "We all know that climate change is now the greatest threat ever to hundreds of species."

A recent report from the United Nations found that 1 million species are at risk of extinction in large part due to the effects of climate change.

Species that could be affected include polar bears and seals, which are currently losing sea ice due to increasing temperatures; whooping cranes facing changes in migration patterns; and beluga whales who have to dive deeper to find food because the Atlantic Ocean is warming.

The Trump administration has waged war against climate science on multiple fronts, stemming from Republican interests in appealing to polluters. as well as Trump's expressed belief that climate science is a "hoax."

Trump's secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, even praised climate change in a May presentation, saying it would boost business: "Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade."

The new rules also allow government agencies, which are now led by Trump appointees with pedigrees in private industry, to make what Earthjustice described as "empty promises or vague or uncertain efforts" to minimize harm to threatened species.

"The Trump administration issued regulations that take a wrecking ball to one of our oldest and most effective environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act," Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) said in a statement. "As we have seen time and time again, no environmental protection — no matter how effective or popular — is safe from this administration."

Climate change is real, despite Trump's claims to the contrary, and ignoring it in exchange for business concerns will hurt species on the brink of disaster and extinction.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.