Carper: Endangered Species Regulations Undermine Science, Put Conservation Efforts at Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement reacting to the Department of Interior’s announcement of final revisions to their July 2018 proposed regulations that will weaken key aspects of the Endangered Species Act.

“The landmark Endangered Species Act has supported the recovery of important wildlife across the country and around the world, including the Red Knot and the Piping Plover, two beloved bird species in Delaware. The final regulations unveiled by the Department of Interior today undercut core provisions that have made the ESA one of the most popular and successful environmental laws in American history. 

“Despite overwhelming opposition, these regulations could weaken the law’s decades-long dependence on science by allowing the federal government to analyze the economic impacts of ESA protections for imperiled species. The regulations could also discourage federal agencies from fully considering the future impacts of climate change on species when making listing decisions. This is yet another example of the Trump Administration putting special interests above sound science and the public good. These revisions would also remove a requirement for agencies to consider the ongoing impacts of their management activities on species, to the detriment of some of our most valued wildlife.

“Ignoring lessons learned, the administration’s new ESA regulations are a departure from science that will undermine key conservation efforts and take us backwards at a crucial time for the future of wildlife. I will continue to oppose these new regulations, and do whatever I can to ensure that the ESA relies on science to protect the wildlife and biodiversity at the heart of our country’s environment and economy.”

Among other revisions to existing policies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries proposed regulations would:

  • Remove the phrase “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination” from the law when listing endangered species. This change could undermine best available science, which should remain the sole driver of listing decisions.
  • Change how the Services consider “foreseeable future” when determining whether a species should be listed as threatened. This change could severely limit protections for imperiled species most affected by climate change.
  • Allow federal agencies to consider the impact of individual federal management actions on species without considering the cumulative impacts of ongoing management activities on those species.