Manatees, humpback whales, gray wolves ... Many species endangered in the United States have benefited since the 1970s from a law that the government of President Donald Trump has substantially relaxed for the benefit of companies, denounce opponents.
The country's emblem, the bald eagle, has been saved from extinction thanks to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, whose easing was approved on Monday.
According to polls, a large majority of US citizens are committed to this law, which is a reference in the world for the protection of the environment.
But the administration of Republican President Donald Trump wanted to make significant changes, removing a clause automatically granting the same protection to so-called "endangered" species that species "in danger of extinction" immediate.
"Until now, a species that was on the endangered species list was immediately protected," Kristen Boyles, a lawyer for the NGO Earthjustice, told AFP.
"At present, it will not be more protected than before its inscription", at least until a specific study for this species has been conducted, lamented the specialist.
The new version of the law also removes a sentence stating that economic considerations should not be taken into account in decisions to protect wildlife.
Many environmental organizations have denounced these changes, which they believe are solely in the interests of business and which may lead to a gradual destruction of the habitat of protected species.
Businesses will now be able to build roads, pipelines, pipelines, mines and other industrial projects in areas designated as "critical habitat" for an endangered species. "A slow death" for the animals involved, says Ms. Boyles.
Interior Minister David Bernhardt, former representative of the oil and gas lobby, said he was pleased with the "improvements", which he said would "allocate more resources where they will be most useful: conservation in the field ".
These "revisions" are part of President Trump's policy of "easing the regulatory burden on the American public without sacrificing the objectives of protecting and restoring our species," the minister insisted. of the Wilbur Ross Trade.
- "A nail in our coffin" -
The Democratic opponents of Donald Trump have strongly criticized the reform. "For decades, the Endangered Species Act has protected our most vulnerable wildlife from extinction, now President Trump wants to get rid of it completely," tweeted former Vice President Joe Biden the Democratic primary for the 2020 presidential election.
The attorneys general of California and Massachusetts have already announced that they will take the case to court.
Returning to this law, "the Trump government would plant a new nail in our coffin (...) We are ready to fight to preserve this important law, the species with which we share this planet, and on which we depend, deserve it Well, "California lawyer Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
The new provisions "endanger local tourism and the leisure industry" in the United States, said its Massachusetts counterpart Maura Healey in a joint statement.
Manatees, humpback whales, American alligators ... Dozens of species have benefited from the Endangered Species Act since 1973.
The gray wolf (Canis lupus), whose population was decimated at the beginning of the 20th century, was probably saved from extinction by this law, as was the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), also known as the fisherman's eagle. from 417 specimens in 1963 to some 10,000 pairs today.
Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the US government has amended more than 80 texts related to human health or the environment, citing the need to relax regulations governing businesses.
Recently, the administration lifted the ban on poisonous cyanide traps designed to kill foxes, coyotes and wild dogs. The use of these M-44 traps was suspended last year after one of these devices, which looks like automatic sprinklers, poisoned a child and killed his dog in Idaho.
© 2019 AFP