The Trump Administration’s continued assault on the environment added yet another notch to its belt last week.
This White House sees the environment and the earth as a blockade against development and of the pillaging of the planet’s resources. Its recent planned rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act, a historic piece of legislation signed into law by President Richard Milhouse Nixon in 1973, is yet another egregious sign of shortsightedness and hubris.
And it’s hitting us right here in the Beaver State. As The Register-Guard reported, “Environmentalists in Oregon and beyond are fuming this week.”
Noah Greenwald, director of The Center of Biological Diversity, said in a statement, “These changes crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife. For animals like wolverines and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end.”
This leadership has time and again stomped out protections for ecosystems and threatened animals. To it the world is for its own dominion. How else can it justify the gutting of the ESA, among other protections to the world around us?
The changes would, according to The New York Times, “Make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and weaken protections for threatened species.” To boot, and of particular interest to Oregon, “And, for the first time, regulators would be allowed to conduct economic assessments, for instance, estimating lost revenue from a prohibition on logging in critical habitat when deciding whether a species warrants protection.”
Here we see the flagrant acts of industry flaunting its short-term interests in exchange for near permanent, irreversible damage to wildlife and habitat.
And while fires burn hotter, burn longer, and sea levels rise and equatorial nations roast at ever increasing temperatures, perhaps the most callous changes to the ESA handcuff regulators from factoring climate change into how that threatens species.
Because of the ESA species like the bald eagle made drastic comebacks, so much so that bald eagles are no longer threatened, but a thriving raptor across this country and in our region. The California Condor. The Grizzly Bear. The Tennessee purple coneflower. The peregrine falcon. The humpback whale. The Florida manatee. The whooping crane. The black-footed ferret. This is just a short list of the fauna and flora that rebounded because of the ESA.
Here at home, Oregon’s wildlife and landscape is much of its appeal. The wildlife and scenery we enjoy on our weekend hikes and excursions are guaranteed in large part due to legislation that respects the critters around us. Oregon has several species of plants and animals on the ESA including the gray wolf, Canada lynx, marbled murrelet, Oregon spotted frog and the Willamette daisy.
They are symbols that trigger conservation in people. Without these mascots of conservation, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the abject pirating and decimation of habitat.
Environmentalists and Democrat state attorneys general are mobilizing to challenge this flagrant affront to an important act signed into law by a maligned Republican president.
We must stand up and insist our leaders advocate for the ESA and not rollback invaluable protections.
Without it far more than animals and landscape will be endangered.