The Endangered Species Act has maintained broad bipartisan support since its inception in 1973. The changes are some of the broadest in the way the act is applied in its nearly 50-year history. As many as 1 million species are at risk of extinction , many within decades, according to a recent U.N. report. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says the revisions will help conservation efforts and increase transparency around the law.They will apply only to future listing decisions. Ranchers, developers and fossil fuel companies have urged Republican lawmakers to change the act for decades. Republicans talk about improving efficiency. Democrats talk about increasing protections. Both, at times, talk about the need for more money to fund wildlife conservation.
Among the announced changes is limiting which habitat , and how much of it , gets considered in determining whether a species is endangered. It will end blanket protections for animals newly deemed threatened and let federal authorities consider the economic cost of protecting a particular species. Fact is it is likely to clear the way for new mining, and oil and gas drilling. Numerous environmental groups and state attorneys general vow to sue the administration over the changes, alleging they are illegal because they’re not grounded in scientific evidence. “For animals like wolverines and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.