Western group hails introduction of PAW and FIN Act

Legislation blocks Trump administration regulations hamstringing the ESA 

For Immediate Release September 17, 2019

Contact: 

Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910, emolvar@westernwatershedsproject.org

 

HAILEY, Ida. – Western Watersheds Project today praised congressional leadership for introducing today a bill titled the Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Protection Act (PAW and FIN Act). This bill blocks a recent Trump administration rulemaking that makes it more difficult to list rare and imperiled plants and wildlife under the Endangered Species Act, increases consideration of economic factors in listing decisions, and strips newly-listed ‘threatened species’ of most protections they previously enjoyed. Representatives Grijalva (D-AZ), Dingell (D-MI), and Beyer (D-VA) led the legislative effort in the House of Representatives.

“With the world in the grip of a biodiversity crisis, this is the worst possible time to hamstring the Endangered Species Act with reckless and irresponsible rule changes,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist and Executive Director with Western Watersheds Project. “America needs congressional leaders to step up and ensure that America’s endangered species get the strong, science-based protections they need to survive, and with the PAW and FIN Act, we see the leadership and restored legislative protections that our imperiled wildlife deserve.”

Included in the Trump administration’s ESA regulatory rollback was a provision repealing the “Blanket 4(d) Rule,” which up to this point had granted species listed as ‘threatened’ protection from actions that would “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect [such species] or attempt to engage in any such conduct.” The new ESA regulations also prevent the designation of habitat presently unoccupied by the species in question from being designated as ‘critical habitat,’ a designation that blocks habitat destruction. For species headed toward extinction, expansion into unoccupied habitats is critical to recovering them to healthy population levels.

“This Trump administration attack on the ESA renders ‘threatened species’ status a token protection, and will put many newly-listed species on a path to extinction,” said Molvar. “Introducing economic considerations into endangered species decision-making warps the process and ensures that politics can trump science to block protections for the rare species that need them. We’re pleased that Congress is putting its foot down with the PAW and FIN Act and making clear the original intent of the law: That science, and only science, can dictate the outcome of conservation decisions once a species reaches the brink of extinction.”

A Senate version of the bill is slated for introduction soon.

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