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California Plans To Sue Trump Administration Over Change To Endangered Species Act

Doug Sovern
August 12, 2019 - 3:05 pm

California intends to sue the Trump administration over changes that would limit the use of the Endangered Species Act, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday. 

Becerra's decision came quickly after the Trump administration revealed a plan to alter federal rules to make it easier to remove animals from the endangered list, weaken protections for species that are threatened, allow consideration of economic impact while making it harder to take climate change into account and pave the way for oil and gas drilling in protected habitats. 

"These rules move far beyond putting those endangered on the hit list," said Becerra. "They now move us closer to seeing those threatened species become endangered, but also seeing their days numbered if something like this were to go through."

The law is credited with helping the California condor and grizzly bear make comebacks. 

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist, said the new rules will streamline and modernize the law and ease regulations.

But the changes could jeopardize polar bears, seals and beluga whales, according to Jamie Clark, the chief executive of Defenders of Wildlife.

"The Endangered Species Act is the backstop for saving biological diversity in this country," said Clark. "Without the Endangered Species Act, we're in real trouble."