The White House May Change the Way Threatened Species are Protected

For the past forty years, under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Services has been enforcing environmental rules and regulations and protecting endangered species in the nation. Under this act, species like the spotted owl, the manatee, the gray wolf, and many other species in the U.S. are protected.

Now the government is threatening to disrupt the environmental stability that the Fish and Wildlife Services has worked for. According to CNN, Congress is currently reviewing the possibility of revoking the Blanket Section 4(d) rule in the Endangered Species Act.

The Blanket Section 4(d) rule protects over three hundred different threatened plants and animals in the U.S. It allows for the implementation of laws that aim to enforce the protection of the species as well as provide funding to organizations such as the Fish and Wildlife Services to work toward preserving the species and their habitat.

If the Blanket Section 4(d) rule is removed, it changes the way that threatened species are protected. In the past, the blanket rule has allowed all species listed as threatened by the government to be protected under an inclusive set of laws.

The Trump administration is proposing removing this blanket protection, and making it so that when a threatened species is added to the list, a set of tailored precautions is created specifically for the species itself.

To an outsider’s perspective, this proposal may not appear at all harmful to the protection of threatened species. However, by taking away blanket protections, and only targeting specific threatened species, conservationists worry that the process of naming a threatened species will be slowed.

It already takes around ten years for a species to be added to the threatened species list. If specified rules and regulations need to be added for each individual species instead of a blanket protection, the process may take even longer.

Eric Holst, Environmental Defense Fund, stated that “eliminating the 4(d) rule would create more work for agency staff, who without default protections would have to address each species uniquely.” In other words, it would require more funding, more staffing, and more precious time.

Time is essential for a species that has no protected habitat – when their food supply drops and their homes are destroyed, chances are their populations will decline as well.  If the U.S. wants to prevent more threatened species from becoming extinct, they need to rethink their proposal to changing the Endangered Species Act, or face the consequences.