DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR SIGNALS IT DOESN’T CARE FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES

United States Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is aware of a recent United Nations report that found extinction of wildlife is occurring at an “unprecedented” pace, with an eighth of the world’s animals and plants at risk, but that he would still go ahead with plans to remove protections on endangered species in the U.S. 

“We didn’t start doing them to not do them,” he said of his policies in an interview with The Washington Post

The Trump administration has long sought to ease protections for endangered species that hinder the gas and oil industry. 

In July, the president proposed ending protections for species that are designated as “threatened” and not endangered. His administration also floated making it easier to remove species from the endangered list, and for the economic impact of protecting species to be considered before adding them to the list. 

The Trump administration will also stop fining companies or individuals for the unintentional killing of birds, like the million-plus birds killed during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. 

The Endangered Species Act places “unnecessary regulatory burden” on companies, wrote Bernhardt in aWashington Post op-ed. 

In March it was revealed that Bernhardt had worked to block a report by scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service that found the use of three popular pesticides could “jeopardize the continued existence” of more than 1,200 endangered animals and plants. The report may have led to tighter regulations on the chemicals. 

Bernhardt, then deputy secretary of the interior, stopped the release of the report and instead instituted a new set of loose rules used to determine if pesticides were dangerous. 

Prior to his work at the Department of Interior, Bernhardt was a lobbyist and lawyer for the oil industry.

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