The Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) is one of America’s bedrock environmental laws. It guides development and land use in ways that safeguard the most vulnerable creatures on the continent. In the Chicago region alone, 14 species of bats, birds, mussels, insects, and prairie plants are Federally threatened or endangered. Nationwide, more than 2,300 known species of wildlife rely on ESA protections to remain on the earth.
It is also one of the most successful environmental protection laws in the world and has become a global model for wildlife conservation. However, the Trump Administration and some members of Congress want to push these species aside to support poorly planned development, irresponsible farming, and mining. A proposal by the Trump Administration will make it harder to protect threatened species and create a path to removing protections for endangered species before their populations have made a healthy recovery. Meanwhile, Congress is proposing to delegate ESA protections to state governments and to undermine citizens’ rights to sue agencies for violations of ESA protections. This coordinated effort is the most aggressive attack on the Endangered Species Act that we have ever seen.
Now is the time for MORE protections for at-risk species, not less. Losses of Chicago-area habitats for Rusty-patched bumblebees and Karner Blue butterflies show us that climate change is rapidly and dramatically changing our environment in ways that seriously threaten native wildlife.