The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has submitted a proposal to remove the blanket section 4(d) rule of the Endangered Species Act. Environmental Defense Fund’s associate vice president of working lands, Eric Holst, has reviewed the proposal and provided the following statement.
“I am shocked by the proposed removal of the blanket section 4(d) rule. I can’t understand why anyone would want to target this long-standing policy of the Endangered Species Act, which has been in place since 1978.
“The blanket 4(d) rule offers an efficient means of providing safeguards to species that are in need of support, with built-in flexibility to create special rules exempting certain activities from restrictions when appropriate.
“This proposal shows that the Interior Department is not immune to the reckless ideas that have plagued other departments.
“This proposal, if it moves forward, would backfire in many ways.
“First, eliminating the 4(d) rule would create more work for agency staff, who without default protections would have to address each species uniquely. This is unworkable at current funding and staffing levels.
“Second, removing the blanket rule will exacerbate uncertainty for stakeholders, because each threatened species would need its own, unique rule – exactly the opposite of the clarifications that stakeholders, including the Western Governors’ Association, have requested.
“It would also stifle collaborative conservation efforts that have successfully kept many species off the endangered species list.
“Finally, removing the blanket rule will only delay protections for threatened species, making it more difficult and costly to reverse population declines, and more likely that species will be listed as endangered.
“Removing the blanket 4(d) rule is unlikely to result in protections that are substantially different than those currently in place through existing take prohibitions and special rules. Removing the rule won’t serve to green light activities that harm species or degrade important habitat, it would just cost more, take more time, create uncertainty and result in more litigation.”
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