Trump Administration Weakens Endangered Species Act Amidst Biodiversity Crisis

Dismantling of Endangered Species Act Will Have Dire Consequences

WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration finalized another regulatory change today that weakens the Endangered Species Act by making it easier to leave areas crucial to species’ long-term survival and recovery unprotected. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published the new rule just a month before the Biden Administration takes office, in an effort to cement the changes despite broad opposition from the public at large.  

The following is a statement from Rebecca Riley, Legal Director of the Nature Program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).  

“For the past four years, the Trump Administration has been laser-focused on weakening the Endangered Species Act, America’s most important wildlife protection law that has prevented the extinction of species like the bald eagle and grizzly bear. Today, the Trump Administration attacked the law’s protections for wildlife habitat, which is crucial to species recovery and survival in the face of climate change.”  

“We need to call this out for what it is: a blatant disregard for our nation’s wildlife and wild places, in favor of more oil and gas development and habitat destruction. This Administration continues to favor special interests over the interests of most Americans, who favor species protections.” 

Background on the Endangered Species Act

The new regulations weaken protections for habitat of endangered species by narrowly defining the term “habitat” to exclude areas that will support species in the future. Protection of these areas is critical if imperiled species are to survive shifting habitat as a result of climate change. 

In the last 50 years, we have lost 60% of all wild animals on the planet. With an extinction crisis looming, the Endangered Species Act is our most important tool to prevent extinction, recover imperiled plants and animals, and protect the ecosystems on which they depend. Protecting species’ habitat is important because species are more likely to survive if they have designated habitat on which to repopulate and thrive.  

For over 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has been an incredibly successful conservation law that protects imperiled species and their habitats. In the years since it was enacted, a remarkable 99 percent of listed species, including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and the gray wolf have been spared from extinction. 

More information on the Endangered Species Act Regulations 


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC


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