In Case You Missed It: Trump Administration Improves the Implementing Regulations of the Endangered Species Act

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON - Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Interior unveiled improvements to the implementing regulations of the Endangered Species Act.

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal—recovery of our rarest species. The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation.”

“The revisions finalized with this rulemaking fit squarely within the President’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These changes were subject to a robust, transparent public process, during which we received significant public input that helped us finalize these rules.”

Read more about improving the Endangered Species Act.

CNN Opinion: Why we're changing the rules on endangered species

The ESA has had some notable successes since its passage more than 40 years ago, as bald eagles and peregrine falcons, once rare in the lower 48 states, are fully recovered and species like the California condor and black-footed ferret have been brought back from the brink of extinction. However, as we look at our record of delisting species from these categories and the law's track record for species recovery, there is clearly room for improvement.

Washington Post: To save endangered species, environmentalists need to listen to their fiercest critics

But missing from most of the coverage of the rule changes were the voices of people who had often paid a steep price for those success stories: loggers put out of work by the Spotted Owl’s ESA listing in 1990 or ranchers whose herds had been attacked by grey wolves. These men and women who work in resource extraction industries actually care deeply for the land and have a long and proud tradition of fighting to protect nature. Yet they are siding with the Trump Administration over the ESA rule changes. And that’s the result of decades of environmentalists ignoring the economic consequences of the ESA on these populations.

Wall Street Journal: Endangered Species Overreach

Perhaps you’ve been reading that the Trump Administration wants to make it easier to eliminate polar bears, spotted owls and other species from the face of the earth. As ever in Donald Trump’s Washington, the reality is different, so allow us to explain.

The uproar concerns a proposed new rule to revise some practices under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. For all the praise liberals shower on that law, it has achieved far less than advertised.

Washington Examiner: Save the Endangered Species Act with Common Sense

The Endangered Species Act has been called the strongest environmental law Congress has ever written because it gives the government almost unlimited power to regulate private landowners with the objective of saving wildlife, fish, and even insects. Environmental groups that relish seeing this law enforced are upset that the Trump administration is proposing to change how the law is administered.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution forbids the taking of private property for public use without compensation. The Endangered Species Act violates the spirit, if not the letter, of this amendment.

Daily Torch: Trump administration steps in to reform Endangered Species Act regs, but more work remains to be done to fix it

Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced some small changes to Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations, which should limit the law’s negative impact on the economy. For example, the Administration is raising the standard for designating areas as critical habitat that are not currently inhabited by protected species. Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is rescinding a rule that generally treated threatened species as endangered species. The FWS is one of two agencies responsible for administering the ESA; the other agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), did not have such a rule so the FWS decision will bring the policies of the two agencies back into alignment. These regulatory actions are a good start, but Congress still needs to reform the failing law.

The Daily Signal: 3 Ways Trump’s New Regulations Will Better Protect Endangered Species

The Trump administration has just taken an important step in the effort to protect threatened and endangered species… This law simply hasn’t worked. Over the law’s more than 45 years, only about 3% of the species listed as threatened or endangered have been removed from the list due to recovery.

The Fence Post: Trump administration revises Endangered Species Act rules

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service jointly announced revisions to regulations that implement portions of the Endangered Species Act. Agriculture groups that have criticized the rules for decades immediately praised the Trump administration’s actions while environmental groups denounced them.

Family Farm Alliance: New Trump ESA Regs Look Good for Western Ag

Against a backlash of negativity from some environmental organizations and their allies in the media, the Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) earlier this month jointly announced three final rules which revise regulations governing sections 4 and 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming

“Governor Mark Gordon today voiced his support for improvements to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) announced by the U.S Department of the Interior, noting that updates will bring needed consistency to the state’s efforts to manage species. The updates to the implementation regulations finalized today by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service apply to ESA sections 4 and 7. Section 4, among other things, deals with adding species to or removing species from the Act’s protections and designating critical habitat; section 7 covers consultations with other federal agencies.”

Property and Environment Research Center, Executive Director Brian Yablonski

"Our interest is getting this landmark wildlife protection law to work better. That means fostering conditions so landowners become more enthusiastic in their role as stewards for species recovery, not worried if they find an endangered species on their land.”

American Farm Bureau Federation-Zipline

“On Monday, August 12, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced three new rules to ensure that the ESA better fulfills the purpose of species recovery, while making the law work better for landowners. These improvements matter because ESA restrictions hinder farming and ranching—something that’s understandable when it truly is needed to benefit a species.”

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

“On Monday, August 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service jointly announced revisions to regulations that guide implementation of the Endangered Species Act. The changes were announced following the issuance of draft rule modifications issued more than a year ago and subsequent to the agencies’ review of hundreds-of-thousands of comments submitted through the required public process needed to modify federal regulations. Following issuance of the final rules, the Department of the Interior issued a press release detailing the proposed changes.”

NESARC Chairman Ryan Yates

“The rules are pragmatic and long overdue. They provide landowners and the regulated community certainty in how they undertake their day-to-day activities in a manner that protects and recovers imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”

NESARC Executive Director Jordan Smith

“The current consultation process is inefficient and can result in unmanageable delays in project development. For large or complicated projects, consultations can take several years to complete. These delays and associated uncertainty have significant monetary impacts for project proponents that can affect the viability of a project. The final rule removes obstacles that have prevented the completion of the consultation process in an efficient and timely manner. Over the past 45 years, federal agencies and project proponents have become more sophisticated in approaches to conservation and the nuances of species conservation issues. The updates to these implementing regulations will provide greater clarity and efficiency, while maintaining critical core protections of the ESA.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Today’s Endangered Species Act reforms serve the needs of imperiled species as well as the people most affected by implementation of the law’s provisions. This makes real-world species recovery more likely as a result. These new regulations restore the traditional distinction between threatened and endangered species. That’s important. In the real world, the things we must do to restore a threatened species are not always the same as the ones we’d use for endangered species. This approach will eliminate unnecessary time and expense and ease the burden on farmers and ranchers who want to help species recover…

Boone and Crockett Club

“According to the Boone and Crockett Club, one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the history of wildlife conservation, now almost 50 years old, is undergoing much-needed steps toward modernization to improve efficiency. Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, today signed new Endangered Species Act (ESA) rules that increase transparency, make it easier for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to work with the states and give landowners more opportunities to promote conservation for imperiled species. ‘We welcome the actions taken today by the Secretary and his staff,” said Timothy C Brady, president of the Boone and Crockett Club. “The most powerful changes made today open the possibility of positive action to restore listed species.’"


Trump's ESA regulations will:  1) encourage private species conservation  2) focus resources on helping species; and  3) better inform policymakers on how best to improve species conservation.  #ESA "For those who want to improve species recovery efforts, these regulations are an important step forward.


Former WCA EVP, Sarah Ryan is in Washington DC with Snake River cattlemen, Dick McNeilly, Sonny (Walter) Riley, and Bill Ryan. They are currently attending a signing at Department of Interior for signing new rules on ESA.


On @DConservPodcast today, I discuss: Why #EndangeredSpeciesAct reforms by @Interior & @CommerceGov will help more species recover. Plus—feral hogs should be managed by hunters & @GOP shouldn't go soft on 2A. Download EP45: Endangered Species Act Reforms Will Help More Species Recover... In Episode 45 of District of Conservation, Gabriella breaks down three important news items. They include: Newly-unveiled rules changes -- or ...



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