Rule changes for implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) could gut the country’s most effective law for protecting biodiversity. In August the Trump administration announced regulations that eliminate automatic protections for newly listed species and allow economic considerations to override scientific data.
Currently there are 42 threatened or endangered species in Utah that are listed under the Endangered Species Act, as well as 166 sensitive species that are not federally protected but warrant special management to keep them from becoming endangered. The State of Utah has a plan to protect these species, but only to avoid Endangered Species Act listing.
In 2013 the State of Utah sided with a group of private property owners who claimed a “right” to drive endangered Utah prairie dogs (Cynomys parvidens) to extinction.
Weakening the Endangered Species Act comes during a global extinction crisis. The United Nations reports that the global rate of species extinction is already at higher than the 10-million-year average and is accelerating.
A lawsuit against the rule changes has been filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, WildEarth Guardians and the Humane Society of the United States.
Utah wildlife Action Plan: wildlife.utah.gov/pdf/WAP/Utah_WAP.pdf ; PBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: ipbes.net
This article is a snippet from the larger column: Environews, that appeared in the September 2019 print issue. Read the full article here.