Assault on our Wildlife thanks to Trump
The Endangered Species Act (ESA)—federal law that protects and preserves some of America’s most vulnerable plants and animals—has been pretty unanimously celebrated and upheld since it went into action in 1973. Passed by the 93rd U.S. Congress during the Republican Nixon Administration, the ESA is an environmental policy that has sustained nonpartisan support over the decades. Politicians and citizens on all sides of the political spectrum seem to realize the Act’s importance and want to help the country’s most susceptible creatures.
After all, who wouldn’t want to support Bald Eagles, Polar Bears, Sea Turtles, Seals, and Whales? Leaving these magnificent animals out to dry when their species are on their last legs would seem utterly heartless.
Nevertheless, the Trump Administration has somehow found a roundabout way to assault these creatures. While the President has hardly suggested direct amendments to the ESA, his environmental policies regarding climate change as well as his push-back approach to federally protected lands are unlawful attacks on Endangered Species all the same.
Over the past four years, President Trump has encouraged opening up National Parks, Forests, and Wildlife Refuges for privatization and extractive industries. He claims that this will stimulate the economy and create jobs. However, it does so by negating some of our country’s most steadfast conservation movements, and sacrificing some of our most sacred landscapes.
While beautiful, these landscapes are not just picturesque backdrops for human indulgence. Federally protected lands are vital spaces for many rare and endangered species. National Parks and Forests, with their strict hunting and fishing regulations, often serve as the final secure habitats for animal and plant populations that once covered the countryside.
When Trump gives companies the OK to drill or develop in these spaces, he creates ecological damage that jeopardizes these species.
On other occasions, the President has actively subverted wildlife protection when creating policies. On a recent trip to California, he supported giving out “Endangered Species Act permits” under the “Trump Administration Biological Opinions.” These BiOps allow developers to bypass ESA guidelines when pumping water from the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. Given that the estuary provides a protective haven for salmon and other fish species, these permits severely threaten the aquatic ecosystem. The American Fisheries Society along with several scientific groups and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have urged Trump against granting these permits, but the President seems to pay little mind to such environmental coalitions (or science as a whole for that matter).
This would not be the first time that Trump ignored the Fish & Wildlife Service. Back in 2016, the FSW created a list of 500 species awaiting protection decisions. For four years, this list has gone unobserved under Trump and each day that it gets brushed aside, the vulnerable species in question grow weaker.
The Animal Kingdom and Caring Humans Fight Back
Now the Center for Biological Diversity is actually suing the Administration for inaction. The ESA states that decisions over whether or not to protect a species should take no more than two years. Thus, Trump’s response to the list is long (in fact, criminally) overdue.
It should really come as no surprise that Trump is against championing the Endangered Species Act. An open climate change denier since his campaign, Trump has passed countless egregious environmental policies during his term. He pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, refuses to limit carbon emissions, and encourages a boom in the fossil fuel industry when the planet needs a switch to renewable energy. The large-scale, apocalyptic consequences of these decisions are palpable. In the short term, however, one can easily overlook the fact that through these policies, Trump is quietly subverting the long-loved, perseverant, and environmentally crucial Endangered Species Act. By refusing to fend off global warming, he is contributing to mass extinction, destroying habitats, and suffocating creatures in dire need of a balanced ecosystem to survive.
While protecting animals and plants might not seem like a top priority when current environmental catastrophes are putting humans at risk, one must remember that humans too require a natural ecosystem to subsist here on Earth. When wild species die out, it affects the entire chain of being and will eventually work its way up to mankind. Therefore, a sense of respect, security, and salvation for our fellow living organisms is essential for the human race to flourish.
Now, the Department of the Interior under Trump wants to make direct cuts to the ESA, finally facing the enshrined act head-on rather than obstructing it under the cowardly guises of other eco-political monstrosities. Upholding the ESA is about far more than just saving a few cute critters, though. It is about combatting the climate crisis, preserving the ecosystem, preventing disease, and making sure future generations get to grow up in a healthy world. It is about humans not taking the planet for granted, and not abusing it at the expense of those we share it with.
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