By Joshua M. Freedman
Special to the Sentinel
ROCKVILLE – The Department of the Interior recently proposed weakening large aspects of the Endangered Species Act. Almost immediately, on Aug. 12, the Trump Administration received backlash from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is the senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
“The new regulations finalized today that weaken vital sections of the Endangered Species Act serve as yet another example of the Trump Administration ignoring the interests of Marylanders,” Cardin said. “In the Fish and Wildlife Service’s most recent report estimating the economic role of national wildlife refuge recreational visitation, the contribution of recreational spending in local Maryland communities was associated with about 3,719 jobs, $123.95 million in employment income, $34.8 million in total tax revenue, and $399.4 million in economic output.”
Not only did Cardin denounce the administration’s plan, but he also said he will take swift action to cause gridlock in any changes that they want to implement.
“I’ve called on my colleagues in Congress to reject amendments that would undermine the Endangered Species Act in must-pass legislation such as appropriations bills and the farm bill,” Cardin said. “The Endangered Species Act, which is helping to recover the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel in Maryland, continues to be one of our country’s most popular and successful environmental laws. That’s why I’ll continue to fight the Trump Administration’s regulatory actions that run counter to the bipartisan will of Congress, like those announced today.”
President Richard Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act on Dec. 28, 1973, after it received an immense amount of bipartisan support. It conserves both plants and animals that are near or are endangered. Without this act, the emblem of the United States, the Bald Eagle, could have gone extinct after spending years on the endangered species list.
Parts of the Act being removed by the Trump Administration would allow for more development in areas currently inhabited by wildlife. Another part of eliminated the Act is if a species is not currently dwelling in a certain habitat. Those areas will become unprotected and open for future development even if endangered species return.
Until the implementation of new provisions, the Trump Administration will face large amounts of mixed feedback. While environmental groups and several Democrats voiced their opposition to the plans, many Republicans support Trump’s proposal.
“We must modernize the Endangered Species Act in a way that empowers states, promotes the recovery of species, and allows local economies to thrive,” said Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso.
Several environmental groups threatened to sue the Trump administration for the proposed changes to the law. However, as of Sept. 2, no lawsuits have been filed.
“As we have seen time and time again, no environmental protection – no matter how effective or popular – is safe from this Administration,” said Senator Tom Udall (D-NM).