Biden Administration Moves to Restore Endangered Species Protections

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Wednesday moved to make it easier to protect wildlife from climate disruption and other threats, restoring protections to the Endangered Species Act that President Donald J. Trump had removed.

Three separate regulations proposed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service would make it harder to remove a species from the endangered list and harder to weaken protections for threatened species, the classification one step below endangered.

The rules also eliminates a Trump-era policy that would have allowed regulators to conduct economic assessments, like estimating the lost revenue for oil and gas operations in protecting species on their fields, when deciding whether a species warrants protection.

Listing species as threatened or endangered must be done, the proposed rule reads, “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination” and be made only based on the scientific evidence.

“The Endangered Species Act is the nation’s foremost conservation law that prevents the extinction of species and supports their recovery,” Martha Williams, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement. She said the proposed changes to the law “reaffirm our commitment to conserving America’s wildlife.”

The rule is expected to face strong opposition from Republicans as well as farmers, ranchers, the logging industry and the oil and gas industry. In narrowing the scope of the Endangered Species Act in 2019, the Trump administration argued the law hampered economic growth.

Lisa Friedman reports on federal climate and environmental policy from Washington. She has broken multiple stories about the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal climate change regulations and limit the use of science in policymaking. @LFFriedman

Catrin Einhorn reports on biodiversity for the Climate and Environment desk. She has also worked on the Investigations desk, where she was part of the Times team that received the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its reporting on sexual harassment. @catrineinhorn

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