Zinke hands industry blank check to damage public lands

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"Compensatory mitigation" is a fancy word for a commonsense policy: If industrial activity on public land harms wildlife or its habitat, the companies responsible have to try to make up for it in some way. (The most common form is called "wetland banking," where developers pay for their damages by funding wetland restoration elsewhere.) But the Trump administration wants to do away with compensatory mitigation altogether. The Interior Department has issued a memo saying that any payback for such damage will be rejected—which, spoiler, means it probably won't happen at all. It's been a rough week for wildlife: This shift in policy comes at the same time as coordinated efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, which will also have significant impacts for habitat conservation.

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