The Endangered Species Act was passed by congress in 1973 by a vote of 355 to 4, an unimaginable majority in this day in age. In the words of The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 is a key legislation for both domestic and international conservation. The act aims to provide a framework to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats.”
The idea behind it is to conserve plant and animal species before it is too late. While not every species listed as protected is in imminent danger of extinction, the act serves to stop at-risk animals from heading in that direction. Since its passage 45 years ago, the Endangered Species Act has saved the bald eagle, grey wolf, and other species from extinction.
A list of endangered animals was created in 1969, which brought the recognition of endangered species onto the national scene. In his 1970 State of the Union address, three years prior to the passage of The Endangered Species Act, President Nixon proclaimed, “Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later. Clean air, clean water, open spaces-these should once again be the birthright of every American. If we act now, they can be.”
We have moved far, far away from this position. Environmentalism has become a thorn in the side of conservatives, and a bastion of liberals. Long gone are the days when everyone could rationally agree that the protection of species matters. Conservatives say that the act hampers economic development because it prevents drilling, mining, and logging, all of which would boost economic growth. But we must consider the long term, and realize that without sacrifice now, we are failing to recognize the detrimental effects to at-risk species and our environment if we do not take action in the present day. The debate poses us with a moral dilemma; do we want to be preventative or reactionary? While the reactionary method would serve our economy in the short term, it fails to recognize the detrimental long term effects to our environment. We must be preventative in order to protect our nation’s species.
In July of 2018, the Departments of the Interior and Commerce made a joint proposal, which suggested sweeping changes that will strip the Endangered Species Act of its key provisions. Although the Department of the Interior says the changes are being put in place to lessen the burden of overregulation, these changes are consistent with a pattern by the Trump administration to roll back environmental regulations.
There are several infractions of the proposal, one of which is to end the protection of species regardless of if they are endangered or threatened and instead determine the protection of threatened species on a case by case basis. In addition to this, federal agencies would not have to get approval from scientists and wildlife groups before awarding permits for oil and gas drilling and logging, which would put many species at risk.
The Endangered Species Act was passed under a republican president; it was passed in an era when environmentalist wasn’t drenched in partisanship, when it was possible to vote for the economy and for the environment. Sadly we couldn’t be further from that political environment, but we as a country need to return to a time when you could be liberal or conservation, and still an environmentalist. At the end of the day, we all live on this planet as a unit, and we will suffer the consequences of ignoring that fact. Animals Are Sentient Beings, Inc. supports us all coming together as people who can care for the other animals around us and to put responsibility for life over profect for few. Please do what you can to protect our animals and defend the Endangered Species Act.
“Endangered Species Act.” Official Web Page of the U S Fish and Wildlife Service, www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/endangered-species-act.html.
Fears, Darryl. “Endangered Species Act Stripped of Key Provisions in Trump Administration Proposal.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 July 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/07/19/endangered-species-act-stripped-of-key-provisions-in-trump-administration-proposal/?utm_term=.a5ce0fdb0392.
Friedman, Lisa, et al. “Law That Saved the Bald Eagle Could Be Vastly Reworked.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 July 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/climate/endangered-species-act-changes.html?em_pos=medium&emc=edit_sc_20180724&nl=science-times&nl_art=6&nlid=65466980emc%3Dedit_sc_20180724&ref=headline&te=1.
Raymond, Gabby. “The Endangered Species Act Faces Threats-Why Was It Created?” Time, Time, 23 July 2018, time.com/5345913/endangered-species-act-history/.
“Richard Nixon: Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union. - January 22, 1970.” The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=2921.
The Editorial Board. “Donald Trump Has Endangered Species in His Sights.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 July 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/07/22/opinion/editorials/zinke-interior-endangered-species.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region®ion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region.