A proposal by the administration of President Donald Trump to overhaul the 1973 Endangered Species Act, if successful, seems likely to hurt the very animals that need its protections the most.
The proposal sounds reasonable to a certain extent. It seeks to reduce government regulations on developing resource-rich land that can be used for drilling, logging, etc. I have nothing against the utilization of resources native to our country. However, I believe short-term economic gain does not overshadow the importance of the long-term health of our ecosystems, and other proposed changes certainly would affect a wide range of species and their habitats.
One of these changes is the removal of a requirement that specifically states that scientific research be the determining factor when assessing land for development, not the needs of a business entity. If a project threatens a species already in peril, it is not allowed currently. Now, the Department of the Interior and the Trump administration wish to do away with this, along with the requirement that wildlife officials and biologists be consulted beforehand.
Along with this, the proposal seeks to discard protections for future species labeled as "threatened," species currently given equal treatment with those labeled as "endangered," as well as making it more difficult to list a species in the first place. There are numerous species that have crawled back from the brink of extinction thanks to the Endangered Species Act, among them the iconic gray wolf and the very symbol of our nation, the bald eagle. Is clearing some red tape worth possibly endangering them again?
Lawmakers putting forward these proposals must keep the future in mind. Stewardship of our environment is not just a noble cause; it is a necessary one. I stand with the president on many issues, but not this.