Trump’s Endangered Species Act overhaul worries Michigan conservationists

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    Environmental advocates and political leaders in Michigan are slamming the Trump administration’s planned overhaul of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

    Under the new regulations, regulators must look at economic factors when determining whether a species should be classified as endangered. Environmentalists say doing so could allow regulators to ignore the impact of climate change. 

    David Bernhardt
    David Bernhardt, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be Interior Secretary, testifies during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images

    David Bernhardt, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said Monday that the changes are “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century.”

    Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement that “President Trump’s move to weaken the Endangered Species Act is a massive step backward and a dangerous move for the future of wildlife in Michigan – like gray wolves, moose, lake sturgeon, spotted turtles, bald eagles and other threatened species.”

    “We need a leader in Washington who will make protecting our ecosystems and tackling climate change key focuses, and this president has done just the opposite time and again when it comes to what Michiganders care about.” 

    More than a dozen endangered species can be found in Michigan, including the gray wolf, the copperbelly water snake and the piping plover bird, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

    The changes drew the ire of U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), whose late husband John was lauded by the Audobon Society for his conservation efforts during his more than 50 years of service in the House.

    Debbie Dingell
    Debbie Dingell | Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan photo, Flickr

    “The Trump Administration’s effort to roll back protections under the Endangered Species Act is just wrong,” Dingell said in a statement. “The law is among the most effective ever passed.” 

    “Over 40 years ago, hunters and fishermen, Democrats and Republicans, understood we were losing species that were critical to maintaining the balance of our wildlife. We need Democrats and Republicans working together to uphold and build on the successes of the Endangered Species Act,” she continued. 

    “The Administration should join in these efforts. Anything less is a step in the wrong direction.”

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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