New Dangers for the Birds and the Bees — Literally

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7 mins read
"White and brown owl." Image via Peakpx.

The following is adapted from a letter I emailed to dozens of friends hoping they would be as eager as I to protect endangered plants and animals from the depredations of the Trump administration. I hope DemCast readers will be inspired, too.

Hello all, 

Many things distinguish the Trump administration, but today I will focus on one — the unconscionable (and unwise) degree to which the Trump Administration views animals, plants, and a heck of a lot of humans as dispensable.

Which helps explain the move in August to gut the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The administration announced on August 12 that it was implementing new rules that make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and that also weaken protections for species classified as threatened. Threatened species are at risk, too, but not considered to be in quite as much trouble as those classified as endangered. 

Moreover, breaking with precedent, the new rules allow regulators to conduct economic assessments — for instance, estimating lost revenue from a prohibition on mining in a critical habitat — when deciding whether a species warrants protection.

Further, the changes make it more difficult for regulators to consider climate change when making decisions about wildlife because climate threats are viewed as not being immediate.

These new rules originated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) — and legislation could void them. 

The bottom line? Humans absolutely must have a diverse collection of plant and animal life for a healthy environment, but, as usual, this administration is bowing to industry, and, often, to fossil fuel businesses. Fossil fuel operations are exactly the kinds of entities that should NOT be supported. And, definitely, none of our endangered species, plant or animal, should be sacrificed to them. 

My opinion, of course.

Legislators in both houses of Congress have introduced bills that would nullify the Trump administration’s effort to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

The bills are called the Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Conservation Act of 2019 (a terrible name, but the clever creator of this moniker likes to shorten it to read like this: the PAW and FIN Conservation Act).

The bills are not duplicates. H.R.4348 simply voids all the new regulations.

The Senate version, S.2491, voids all the new regulations and, for good measure, instructs the departments of Commerce and Interior, when considering any further rules of this type, to analyze short- and long-term impacts of climate change on any species whose status is under consideration, and further, forbids the departments from analyzing and considering the economic impacts of putting a species on the threatened or endangered lists.

Slap. Slap.

I believe one of these bills needs to become law; I prefer the Senate version but either would do. I am shouting about this because the Trump administration’s approach to endangered species is so very offensive and so very foolhardy — and because I have a soft spot for wildlife.

For those who are also concerned about protecting plant and animal diversity in this country, I offer three sample postcard-sized messages suitable for all members of Congress. Use as you wish and share where you wish. For really easy communication, send faxes from your computer using faxzero.com. Harness social media skills for this one, too. 

Possible postcard language

Dear (member of Congress):
I am a constituent and I insist you pass the Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Conservation Act (H.R.4348/S.2491) to keep the Endangered Species Act strong.

On August 12, the Department of Interior announced rules that would make it easier to remove species from the endangered list, weaken protections for threatened species, allow consideration of economics when assessing a species, and curtail reliance on climate science in decision making. 

Weakening the ESA serves corporate interests at the expense of biodiversity, land conservation, human health, and science — and ignores popular opinion.

Please end these ruinous attacks on the ESA.

OR

Dear (member of Congress):
I am a constituent. I value biodiversity, land conservation, human health, and science more than the profits of a narrow slice of American business. The great majority of Americans agree.

Listen to voters; pass the Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Conservation Act (H.R.4348/S.2491) to keep the Endangered Species Act strong. 

On August 12, the Department of Interior announced rules that make it easier to remove species from the endangered list, weaken protections for threatened species, allow economic assessments when reviewing a species, and curtail reliance on climate science in decision-making. 

These concepts are unacceptable. Move this legislation forward.

OR

Dear (member of Congress):
On August 12, the Department of Interior announced a number of rules that would greatly undermine the very successful — and widely supported — Endangered Species Act.

I am a constituent, and I need you to lead the way with colleagues in passing the Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Conservation Act (H.R.4348/S.2491) to overturn these unacceptable and destructive rules.

A world in which biodiversity is protected is a healthier world for every living thing, including humans. The new rules would certainly lead to extinctions, and extinctions cannot be undone.

Thank you for taking action.

As ever,
Nadine Godwin

P.S. On September 25, one day before these dangerous rules became effective, the attorneys general from 17 states, the District of Columbia and New York City filed a challenge to the regulations in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. However, Congress could act a lot faster, and, although Congress is an uphill project given Republican control of the Senate, this is the arena where we can make noise.


DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.


Born and raised in Iowa. Earned journalism degree at University of Iowa and masters degree at Teachers College Columbia University. Spent career as investigative reporter and editor, mostly with travel trade publications. Now retired, but writing on a freelance basis.

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