Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Two American bald eagles are perched on a nesting stand at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

'Disgusting and Disturbing': Trump Guts Endangered Species Act in Gift to Big Business

"This administration seems set on damaging fragile ecosystems by prioritizing industry interests over science."

Jake Johnson

Environmentalists denounced the Trump administration for crashing a "bulldozer" through the Endangered Species Act on Monday after the Interior Department finalized a series of rollbacks to the 46-year-old law that will further imperil hundreds of vulnerable animal and plant species while paving the way for business development projects.

"We are in the midst of an unprecedented extinction crisis, yet the Trump administration is steamrolling our most effective wildlife protection law," Rebecca Riley, legal director of the nature program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. "This administration seems set on damaging fragile ecosystems by prioritizing industry interests over science."

As the New York Times reported, the Trump administration's rollbacks will "very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live."

Noah Greenwald, the Center for Biological Diversity's endangered species director, said the dramatic rule changes "could be the beginning of the end" for hundreds of species such as wolverines and monarch butterflies.

"We'll fight the Trump administration in court to block this rewrite, which only serves the oil industry and other polluters who see endangered species as pesky inconveniences," said Greenwald.

The Washington Post summarized the Trump administration's sweeping changes to the widely popular law:

Potential threats to business opportunities and other costs of listing a species [as endangered] must now be considered and shared with the public...

The administration will also shrink the number of habitats set aside for threatened wildlife. Currently, land that plants and animals occupy is set aside for their protection, in addition to areas that they once occupied but abandoned.

For the threatened species, unoccupied habitat might not be protected, opening it up for oil and gas exploration or other forms of development.

Conservationists and some politicians decried the changes as a major rollback of the 46-year-old law credited with saving the bald eagle, grizzly bear, humpback whale, American alligator, and Florida manatee from extinction.

The administration's rollbacks, which sparked a torrent of public opposition, come just months after a dire United Nations report warned that human activity has pushed a million plant and animal species to the brink of extinction.

The Sierra Club said in a statement that the administration's far-reaching rule changes, which the group dubbed Trump's "extinction plan," will accelerate that alarming trend.

"Undermining this popular and successful law is a major step in the wrong direction as we face the increasing challenges of climate change and its effects on wildlife," said Lena Moffitt, director of Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign. "The Endangered Species Act works; our communities—both natural and human—have reaped the benefits. This safety net must be preserved."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists to BlackRock Vice Chairman: New Fossil Fuel Development 'Incompatible' With 1.5°C

"The only responsible course of action is to do everything in our power to stop fossil fuel expansion and further emissions."

Jessica Corbett ·


Goldman Prize Awarded to Activists Who Showed Nature's 'Amazing Capability to Regenerate'

"While the many challenges before us can feel daunting, and at times make us lose faith, these seven leaders give us a reason for hope and remind us what can be accomplished in the face of adversity."

Julia Conley ·


Faith Leaders Call for Federal Election Monitors in Georgia to Protect Black Voters

"It is imperative that our election this November is monitored to preserve ballot integrity and ensure ballot security."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Inaction Is Bought': Here Are the Receipts on NRA's Purchase of GOP

"The issue is money in politics," said Nina Turner after the nation's latest mass killing of students and teachers. Right-wing lawmakers are "allowing children to die because of the gun lobby."

Kenny Stancil ·


'This Is on You!' Beto Interrupts Abbott Press Conference on Texas Massacre

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke accused Texas' GOP leaders of "doing nothing and offering us nothing" in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo