This is infuriating. Trump is ending an Obama-era policy that forced industry to pay up when they damaged key endangered animals habitats.
On Friday, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced the ending of the compensatory mitigation policy for the Endangered Species Act.
“We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce we are withdrawing the Mitigation Policy published November 21, 2016, which guides Service recommendations on mitigating the adverse impacts of land and water developments on fish, wildlife, plants,and their habitats. We are now withdrawing this policy as it is no longer appropriate to retain the “net conservation gain” standard throughout various Service-related activities and is inconsistent with current Executive branch policy.”
The announcement says that the policy of having industry off-set the damage they do to species and habitats is no longer consistent with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s order to focus on energy independence.
Zinke’s order “directed Department of the Interior bureaus to reexamine mitigation policies and practices to better balance conservation strategies and policies with job creation for American families.”
The administration is arguing that tying monetary fines with endangered species habitat destruction could lead to abuse of the rule against industry.
“Because by definition compensatory mitigation does not directly avoid or minimize the anticipated harm, its application is particularly ripe for abuse,” the administration says.
Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said that habitat destruction would still be considered when issuing permits.
“We still in every decision we make say ‘Have we avoided impacts? Have we minimized impacts?’” Bernhardt said. “We will still do that but when it comes to doing compensatory mitigation off-site we will say that needs to be voluntary.”