The rules, jointly announced by the Interior and Commerce departments, were changed as part of President Donald Trump’s mandate to scale back government regulations on behalf of businesses. In that vein, language in the act that required officials to rely heavily on science when considering whether to place a species on the threatened or endangered list, regardless of economic impact, was erased.
Potential threats to business opportunities and other costs of listing species can now be considered by the government and shared with the public. Officials said those considerations would not affect listing decisions but politicians and conservationists noted that it could inflame public opposition to proposals to rescue fragile populations.
“The revisions finalized with this rule-making fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “These changes were subject to a robust, transparent public process, during which we received significant public input that helped us finalize these rules.”
Administration officials said in a telephone news conference that the new rules will only affect future listings and will not be retroactive. But conservationists pointed out that the new rules would have