Three months after a U.N. report warned that 1 million species face extinction because of human activity, the Trump administration on Monday finalized rule changes to the Endangered Species Act that make it harder to protect plants and animals whose populations are in serious decline.
The rules, jointly announced by the Interior and Commerce departments, were changed as part of President Trump’s mandate to scale back government regulations on behalf of businesses. In that vein, language in the act that required officials to rely heavily on science when considering whether to place a species on the threatened or endangered list, regardless of economic impact, was erased.
Potential threats to business opportunities and other costs of listing species can now be considered by the government and shared with the public. Officials said those considerations would not affect listing decisions, but lawmakers and conservationists noted that it could inflame public opposition to proposals to rescue fragile populations.