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Endangered Species Act meets economic reality

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt (right) with President Donald Trump Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci (file)

Endangered Species Act meets economic reality

WASHINGTON—For the first time, the U.S. government will assess the economic effect of placing a plant or animal on the endangered species list, the Trump administration announced Monday. The Endangered Species Act protects more than 1,600 species in the United States and its territories.

Why the changes? Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the shift would modernize the 1973 act and reduce its regulatory burden. Regulators will also stop applying blanket protections to species recently tagged as under threat of extinction. Officials insist they will not use cost estimates as a factor in determining whether a species is endangered. But environmental activists said even calculating the cost will invite political interference. They argued the proposed changes could speed extinction for some species. Several states and Democratic lawmakers have already announced plans to challenge the proposed rule in court and in Congress.

Dig deeper: WORLD Magazine’s Sophia Lee and Angela Lu Fulton have written about the economic toll of protecting endangered fish in California.

Harvest Prude

Harvest is a former political reporter for WORLD’s Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate.



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