A number of environmental groups have filed suit against the Trump administration, arguing that regulatory changes being considered would fundamentally undermine protections for endangered species.
The lawsuit is seeking a court decision to stop the administration’s changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which would force the Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) to protect species from threats in the “forseable” future.
The changes would also make it more difficult for conservationists to maintain protections on areas that represent an animal’s habitat, which environmental groups say will speed up the decline of some already-threatened species.
“Taken together, this package of regulatory changes undermines the fundamental purpose of the ESA to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, [and] to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species,” the lawsuit reads.
Groups that are a part of the lawsuit argued in statements that the Trump administration was weakening the act because of the president’s own personal skepticism about climate change. Trump in the past has famously referred to climate change as a “hoax” engineered by China.
“It appears that this administration is ignoring the science because they don’t believe in climate change,” Taylor Jones, a spokesperson for WildEarth Guardians said in a statement. “This is blatant disregard of the climate crisis.”
Other advocates also noted that the ESA is insufficient for protecting species in the face of climate change, saying that, even at its current strength, the act may not be able to save some native American species.
“Climate change is basically going to swamp the Endangered Species Act as it’s not equipped to deal with global-scale disruptions,” said J.B. Ruhl, a Vanderbilt professor of environmental law, according to The Guardian. “The act can’t stop that.”