Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Trump Administration's War on Wildlife

The Trump administration is working to erode protections designed to safeguard America's wildlife. As reiterated in a new U.N. report we are destroying biodiversity at an unprecedented rate.  The future of life on this planet is looking bleak as the world's most powerful nation belligerently disregards the natural world.

This is an administration that puts economic impacts ahead of species protections. They have sought to end protections for threatened species including those that hinder the fossil fuel industry.

The facts expose the administration's callous disregard for the nation's biodiversity. That is why both Trump and the Department of the Interior actively oppose science. Interior has an important role in conservation as they manage public lands, national parks and wildlife refuges. They are also responsible for conservation efforts including protecting endangered species. Oil industry lobbyist David Bernhardt is the new secretary of the department and in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed he wrote the Endangered Species Act places "unnecessary regulatory burden" on companies.

Bernhardt has amassed a rap-sheet of environmental crimes in the short time he has been at the helm of the cabinet level agency. In February a National Park scientist was dismissed when she refused to remove references to climate change from a report she had written. In March Bernhardt blocked a report by scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service that found popular pesticides "jeopardize the continued existence" of more than 1,200 endangered animals and plants. He then relaxed the rules for pesticides.

In May Bernhardt proposed weakening protections for the highly endangered American burying beetle. He also exempted the oil and gas industry from having to consider its impact on the beetle's habitat in Oklahoma. They argued that the beetle will be rendered extinct by climate change anyway so there is no point in trying to save it. They do not mention the fact that this administration has consistently undermined efforts to combat the climate crisis, nor do they disclose all the ways they have supported increased fossil fuel production.

Bernhardt wants to revise the entire Endangered Species Act to make it harder to put a species on the list and easier to remove them. He is also seeking to weaken habitat protections. 

The Trump administration's ongoing assaults on wildlife are part of a de-regulatory orgy that is imperiling American biodiversity.

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