US moves to restore endangered species protections

U.S.

CENTERPORT, NY – AUGUST 15: An American bald eagle sits in a tree adjacent to Mill Pond on August 15, 2018 in Centerport, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

 (Reuters) — U.S. officials on Friday announced plans to restore protections for endangered species that were weakened under the Trump administration.

In a statement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service said they would initiate processes in the coming months “to revise, rescind or reinstate” five Endangered Species Act regulations that were finalized under former President Donald Trump.

The move is the latest by the administration of President Joe Biden to reverse business-friendly Trump policies that loosened environmental regulations.

But changes to federal rules must undergo a public rulemaking process that can take months or years.

Environmentalists applauded the move but implored the administration to move quickly.

“We are currently in the midst of an unprecedented global extinction crisis, and endangered species have no time to waste,” environmental group Earthjustice, which sued to block the Trump-era rule revisions, said in a statement.

Changes implemented under Trump ended a practice that automatically conveyed the same protections for threatened species as for endangered species, and struck language that guides officials to ignore economic impacts of how animals should be safeguarded.

The 1970s-era Endangered Species Act is credited with bringing back from the brink of extinction animals such as bald eagles, gray whales and grizzly bears, but the law has long been a source of frustration for drilling, mining and other industries because listings can put vast areas of land off-limits to development.

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