Ecosystem Services: Think of bees that pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the U.S. That’s the beauty, or bounty, that the Endangered Species Act provides. The ESA ensures these beneficial ecosystems just don’t unravel. You see the Endangered Species Act doesn’t just protect the individual species, it also protects the lands, or habitats, the endangered species need to survive. For sure protecting these habitats can make it difficult for certain industries, mainly extractive industries, such as; oil & gas, mining and lumbering. Renewable energy is out pacing coal, oil & gas extractive industries in America. It’s a well known fact that, extractive industries cause more harm for our vital ecosystems; such as land, water, air and wildlife. But there are several politicians, like Senator Barrasso, Republican from Wyoming, that supports these extractive industries and wants to rewrite the ESA to accommodate these dying-extractive-industries.
The Trump administration is making drastic changes to how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is applied announced this week.
Chief among the changes is the removal of blanket protections for threatened animals and plants.
Until now, any species deemed threatened — a category for organisms at risk of becoming endangered — by the FWS automatically received the same protections as endangered species. They include bans on killing threatened and endangered species. Now, those protections will be determined on a case-by-case basis, a move which will probably reduce overall protections for species that are added to the threatened list, says Hartl.
The US government says that these updates will ease the burden of regulations and increase transparency into decisions on whether a species warrants protections. But critics say that the revisions cripple the ESA’s ability to protect species under increased threat from human development and climate change.
“These changes tip the scales way in favour of industry,” says Brett Hartl, government-affairs director for the environmental advocacy group the Center for Biological Diversity, who is based in Washington DC. “They threaten to undermine the last 40 years of progress.” Source
What are the economic benefits the Endangered Species Act generates from protecting vital habitats?
In the following article from Time The Endangered Species Act Is Criticized for Its Costs. But It Generates More than $1 Trillion a Year.
“Yeah, there are costs: it might slow down certain industries and help certain industries,” says Jason Shogren, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming. “We have to think about all the non-market benefits that exist for knowing these species exist, for knowing the web of life is intact, for knowing that these ecosystems aren’t going to unravel.”
Economists often describe this broad set of benefits as “ecosystem services,” and their value to the U.S. economy is enormous. Think of bees that pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the U.S. like fruits, nuts and vegetables or birds that eat mosquitoes that would otherwise spread disease to humans.
A 2011 study prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a government-affiliated conservation group, tabulated the total value of ecosystem services at about $1.6 trillion annually in the U.S. The value totaled more than $32 billion in National Wildlife Refuges protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Critics of the Endangered Species Act often couch their concerns in terms of the damage that it does to specific industries.
Speaking at a hearing on the law in 2017, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming went through a laundry list of economic interests he said were being harmed by the 1973 law.
“States, counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders are all making it clear that the Endangered Species Act is not working today,” he said.
But as the Trump Administration prepares a set of regulatory changes that could dramatically undermine the law, some supporters are highlighting the economic benefits of protecting endangered species.
They note that the law doesn’t just protect individual species, it also protects the ecosystems that support that species. That work sustaining natural lands and the species that call them home helps ensure everything from a hospitable climate to clean drinking water.
The Trump administration and republican law makers have been working to change the ESA…
Changes from Republicans in Washington would prioritize these industry concerns. The Department of the Interior in a press conference announced the changes to how the agency implements the law:
The changes finalized today by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and 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.
These changes spell disaster for our natural resources…
The rule change would tighten standards for protecting new land, potentially allow regulators to ignore the effects of climate change on a species and, perhaps most significantly, allow for cost considerations when previously decisions were made on science alone.
Democrats are likely to fight these changes to the ESA…
Tinkering with the Endangered Species Act isn’t a political winner with polls showing most Americans broadly supporting the law, along with other environmental protections. But Democrats argue that their Republican counterparts have bet that reforming the popular law are ok with that so long as they reward the interest groups that helped put the current Republicans in office in the first place.
In a statement last year…
“The Trump Administration doesn’t seem to know any other way to handle the environment than as an obstacle to industry profits,” said Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, in a statement. “If a single company can make a single dollar from the destruction or displacement of an endangered species, it’s full speed ahead.”
Take action to preserve the Endangered Species Act…
Contact you Senator today! Center for Biological Diversity has an easy to use form and note to your congressman to tell the Trump Administration to stop gutting the ESA!
Use Center for Biological Diversity’s Take Action form click here.