The Trump Administration announced sweeping changes to the Endangered Species Act Monday, a move officials say will increase government transparency and improve the process for enacting protections for animals and plants.
But Democrats say the changes to this once bipartisan act would further threaten endangered species in the U.S.
One change to the legislation would allow officials to examine the economic impacts of protecting a certain species. But the policy notes economic factors cannot be a reason to classify a species as endangered or not.
The Endangered Species Act is credited with helping save a number of species from extinction in the U.S., including the bald eagle.
The administration says this provision is meant to increase transparency on the government’s part.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee stated on MSNBC Monday he believes the move was made to appease outside pressure.
"This is just another case of Donald Trump selling out the vital interests of the American people to the lobbyists and special interests," he said. "I’ve looked at these proposals, they basically mean we won’t listen to science."
Inslee wasn’t the only Democrat critical of the change.
"This latest disastrous decision deals a devastating blow to our natural inheritance and shamefully abandons our moral responsibility to be good stewards of our planet and its precious resources, all to help out big corporations and polluters — just days after the United Nations warned that our natural world is under ‘unprecedented threat,’" Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
Another change would roll back broad protections for animals that are listed as threatened, a classification short of endangered. Instead, species can be examined on a case by case basis.
Several Republican lawmakers and officials voiced support of the changes.
"The Endangered Species Act was created with the good intention of protecting and conserving species on the brink of extinction. But in reality, it has inflicted more harm than good on Texas ranchers and farmers, along with the species it aims to protect,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement.