WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The Trump Administration announced changes to the Endangered Species Act saying it wants to make the conservation law more transparent and efficient.
Critics fear the changes will make endangered species disappear.
On Monday, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said the changes to the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act are an effort to improve the law.
“Will ensure that ESA implementation is more clear and consistent across agencies,” he said.
The Endangered Species Act is credited with saving species like grizzly bears and bald eagles.
“I cannot stress enough, that a more efficiently implemented act is more effective,” Bernhardt said.
One of the major changes is that the government will now include a cost-benefit analysis when deciding whether a species is worth saving.
“We believe that sound science should drive the decision and not necessarily the bottom line or pockets of folks,” Kirin Kennedy with the Sierra Club said.
Kennedy said the rule change takes away protections from species that are classified as threatened, rather than endangered. She fears the changes will more easily green light oil and gas exploration on lands that serve as habitats for endangered species.
“It makes it hard to take into account climate change and other larger things that would affect the population,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said protecting species is important because a healthy ecosystem provides clean air and water as well as food for people.
Environmental groups and various states like California and Massachusetts say they’ll fight the changes in court.