Unless Congress Can Stop Him, Señor Trumpanzee And His GOP Allies Are About To Drive A Bulldozer Through The Endangered Species Act

Not impeaching him in light of the pubic criminal record he has created absolutely emboldens him. Pelosi's political calculus is a disgrace to the Congress and the Constitution and the Democratic Party. His newest antic-- weakening the endangered Species Act-- should be attributed to Pelosi, along with the concentration camps along the southern border than she made sure would be funded.

The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, primarily because its predecessors-- the Lacey Act of 1900, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929, the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966-- hadn't gone far enough in accomplishing what the public wanted in way of protecting wildlife from extinction. Nixon was president at the time and his administration asked Congress to pass "a stronger law to protect endangered species of wildlife" and called for legislation to make the killing of an endangered species a federal offense. Pointedly, the legislation was introduced by Senator Harrison Williams, a Democrat. It was unanimously approved. The House passed it 390-12. Later, the Supreme Court ruled that "the plain intent of Congress in enacting" the Endangered Species Act "was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost." That "whatever the cost" clause has always been a sticking point politically, especially for conservatives.

A year ago a report from PBS warned that the Trump and his congressional allies were trying to gut the Endangered Species Act, despite strong public support for it. Their reporters noted that "criticism of the law has been a persistent feature of debates about whether and how to protect imperiled species. That criticism often comes from business and agricultural interests, who argue that the Act’s provisions excessively limit their ability to develop and manage private property. Such criticisms led to a proposal by the Trump Administration this week to severely curtail the scope of the Act. And they have prompted recent congressional hearings and raised concern that support for the law may be waning." Last year 6 corrupt right-wing shitbags-- Ken Calvert (R-CA), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Pete Olson (R-TX) and Bill Huizenga (R-MI)-- proposed bills to weaken the Endangered Species Act on hehalf of corporate interests.

In the past two years there have been nearly 150 such efforts aimed at weakening the Act. Sponsors of such legislation have not been shy about the goals of their efforts. As Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) put it, their intent is to “invalidate” the Act.

...Our results raise the question: If support for the Act transcends political ideology, party, region of the country, and even interest group-- why are congressional efforts to weaken the Act increasing?

Some insight may come from political scientists who have shown that “average citizens and mass-based interest groups” have little to no influence on a wide range of policy issues.

Rather, the research suggests, policy outcomes in America are heavily influenced by “economic elites” and business interests who, by virtue of their considerable financial resources, have greater clout with, and access to, policymakers.

This could also explain why “legislators in the U.S. Congress routinely defect from their campaign promises in environmental protection, undermining the link between citizen preferences and policy choice.”

According to records compiled by the Center for Biological Diversity, as of late April 2018 there are more than 50 bills that would, if passed into law, weaken the Act in one form or another. Whether such legislation can be passed in the face of overwhelming public support remains to be seen.

EarthJustice worries that some may get through, especially with Trump in the White House. The 6 species most at risk-- of irreversible extinction-- from Trump are the gray wolf, the bald eagle, the grizzly bear, the killer whale, the Florida manatee and the whooping crane. The Endangered Species Act is still very popular among the American people, far more popular than Trump.

Even conservatives support the act 82-16%, even if not as strongly as liberals (96%-1%). The survey shows that 68% of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports environmental safeguards like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act; 71% of registered voters believe that decisions about which species should or should not be protected under the Endangered Species Act should be made by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, not by members of Congress; and 66% of respondents reject the false choice between jobs or economy and protection of species and agree that the law is necessary to prevent species from going extinct. This plurality believes we can protect our natural heritage for future generations while growing our economy and creating jobs. Less than one-fourth (24%) agree with critics who contend that the law hurts our economy and destroys jobs.

Scientists believe we are currently undergoing the sixth mass wave of extinction ever to impact our planet. Stemming from human activity, this loss of biodiversity is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Many species-- no one knows how many-- are disappearing even before they are discovered. That’s why the Endangered Species Act is urgently needed.

Scientists estimated that without the Act, at least 227 additional species would have gone extinct between 1973 and 2005.

As important, the Act has protected millions of acres of forests, beaches, and wetlands-- those species’ essential habitats-- from degradation. Thanks to this legal safety net, today’s children are able to experience the wonder of rare wild creatures as living, breathing parts of our natural heritage, not as dusty museum specimens.

Now the Endangered Species Act is under political attack.

Last summer, the Interior Department released a series of proposed changes to the way the agency interprets and carries out actions under the Endangered Species Act-- including changes to the requirement that federal agencies consult with expert wildlife agencies and scientists when seeking permits for projects such as logging or oil and gas drilling operations.

In addition, the Trump Administration aims to incorporate economic considerations into decisions about whether or not species on the brink of extinction are protected-- while not taking climate change into account.

The sweeping regulatory changes were finalized on Aug. 12, 2019. The rollbacks weaken endangered species protections by permitting actions that lead to the gradual destruction of a listed species as long as each step is sufficiently modest, creating a loophole exempting activities that could harm listed species by hastening climate change, and more. “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,” said Drew Caputo, Earthjustice Vice President of Litigation for Lands, Wildlife, and Oceans. “We'll see the Trump administration in court.”

Meanwhile, anti-environment interests in the House and Senate, backed by oil and gas corporations, mining companies, and other extractive industries, have orchestrated additional attacks on the Endangered Species Act, introducing 116 legislative rollbacks in the 115th Congress alone.

Goal ThermometerTexas progressive Mike Siegel is running for Congress in a district occupied by Trump enabler Michael McCaul. McCaul echoes whatever Trump wants no matter what. That's not the kind of Representative Siegel is going to be-- no matter who the president is. And he's pissed off by Trump's latest move. "This is another disgusting attack on our national heritage," he told me this morning. "Like Trump's regulations exposing us to increased water pollution and air pollution, this attempt to weaken the Endangers Species Act is a form of legalized theft. The natural resources within the United States belong to all of us, and must not be sacrificed for the benefit of the President's corporate cronies."

Kathy Ellis is running for Congress in a district that the DCCC doesn't even ever look at. Trump beat Hillary there 75.4% to 21.0%. Hillary wasn't offering this huge, rural, mostly white, mostly poor district anything. Kathy Ellis is and if they're willing to listen, she just may have a chance to replace the right-wing hack who represents them in Congress now. "As a proponent of protections for endangered species and a strong supporter of our national parks and lands," Kathy told us, "this latest assault is another egregious action to destroy not just our wildlife but the entire planet as well. While my opponent, Jason Smith, works on behalf of corporations who want to gut these protections, I will represent the public, who supports them. We need leaders in Congress who will stand up against these attacks and stand for the protection of our environment."

Yesterday, Lisa Friedman, reporting for the NY Times wrote that Señor Trumpanzee had just announced "that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction. The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations."

David Bernhardt, the secretary of the Department of Interior, wrote in an op-ed last summer that the 1973 Endangered Species Act places an “unnecessary regulatory burden” on companies.

...Republicans have long sought to narrow the scope of the law, saying that it burdens landowners, hampers industry and hinders economic growth. They also make the case that the law is not reasonable because species are rarely removed from the list. Since the law was passed, more than 1,650 have been listed as threatened or endangered, while just 47 have been delisted because their populations rebounded.

Over the past two years Republicans made a major legislative push to overhaul the law. Despite holding a majority in both houses of Congress, though, the proposals were never taken up in the Senate. With Democrats now in control of the House, there is little chance of those bills passing.

The Trump administration’s revisions to the regulations that guide the implementation of the law, however, mean opponents of the Endangered Species Act are still poised to claim their biggest victory in decades.

One of the most controversial changes modifies longstanding language that prohibits the consideration of economic factors when deciding whether a species should be protected.

Under the current law, such determinations must be made solely based on science, “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of determination.”

“There can be economic costs to protecting endangered species,” said Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife and oceans at Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. But, he said, “If we make decisions based on short-term economic costs, we’re going to have a whole lot more extinct species.”

The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species-- a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered. It also gives the government new discretion in deciding what is meant by the term “foreseeable future.”

That’s a semantic change with far-reaching implications, because it enables regulators to ignore the effects of extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change that may occur several decades from now.

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