By Nora Apter, Natural Resources Defense Council
If you care about the future of life on Earth, the United Nation’s report on biodiversity hit you like a ton of bricks: 1 million species of plants and animals will soon face extinction—and humanity itself hangs in the balance.
While the report is perhaps the grimmest we’ve seen on the threat of species and resource depletion, the extinction crisis is far from new news. For years, scientists have warned that we are currently facing a devastating global mass extinction, with one in six species predicted to be extinct by the end of the century.
As the United Nations’ scientific report warns of catastrophic species loss, our leaders in government should be working to fully fund and implement our most effective law for protecting species in danger of extinction: The Endangered Species Act.
Instead, the Trump administration is pushing a set of dangerous regulations that would gravely weaken the law. Best described as the “Trump Extinction Plan,” the proposed rollbacks would give the drilling, mining, and logging industries the green light to destroy fragile wildlife habitats and drive our most threatened species to the brink of extinction.
By undermining the Endangered Species Act, the Trump administration not only risks the future of iconic species like gray wolves, polar bears, and humpback whales, but further threatens the balance of fragile natural systems that we humans depend on for survival. Clearly, President Trump and Interior Secretary Bernhardt are more intent on giving favors to their friends in industry than on representing the vast majority of everyday Americans who want to see this vital law preserved.
In responding to the UN report, the Trump administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service touted itself as “a global leader in the effort to combat extinction.” As the agency driving these regulations, that statement could not be further from the truth.
The hypocrisy is enough to drive any conservation advocate extinct.
The Trump administration is expected to release the final regulations any day now. It’s up to leaders in Congress to expose this hypocrisy and conduct oversight on the administration’s efforts to gut the Endangered Species Act. At the same time, the new House majority must take proactive measures to address the extinction crisis, starting with fully funding for the law. As the UN report makes clear, we don’t have a minute to waste.