Permit requirements for endangered species habitat? What requirements, says FWS.
New directions issued to U.S. Department of the Interior staff that prohibit telling developers Endangered Species Act permits may be required for their projects. Greg Sheehan, a Fish and Wildlife Services director, sent a memo last month stating that the FWS shouldn’t be notifying third-party developers of ESA requirements to obtain “incidental take permits" for development activities that may hurt threatened or endangered species or their habitat. The memo states that bringing up the permit with developers is “not appropriate” and goes so far as to say that it’s the “decision of the applicant” as to whether to apply for one. This could make enforcing the ESA much harder, as there will be no record of communication between the government and developers regarding what is necessary to protect endangered wildlife. FWS's clear deprioritization of the Endangered Species Act could have serious consequences for conservation efforts, but the move is unsurprising as it comes from one of the Trump administration's behind-the-curtain players working to loosen environmental protections. Another fierce opponent of the ESA is Sheehan's buddy, Susan Combs, who is slated to become the agency's acting secretary.