The Trump administration has withdrawn actions to protect at least 42 endangered species, from the green sea turtle to the yellow-billed cuckoo, in a way that environmentalists say may have broken federal law.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew the regulatory actions, many of which detailed how to protect threatened animals and plants, last March and April. This went unnoticed by environmental groups because the administration only mentioned it as part of a larger, more general statement about the status of regulations, Bloomberg reported.
That stealth mode may be illegal. “They are required by law to issue these,” said Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has sued the government to get protections for endangered species. “If they are taking them off the schedule, they are in violation of the law and they are also putting species at risk of extinction. I think it’s totally unacceptable.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service's move “reflects our anticipated workflow at this time,” according to a Department of Interior statement to Bloomberg. The department is assessing other endangered species, it said. “Withdrawing a rule simply means the agency is focusing its resources on other priorities for the coming 12-month period,” it said in the statement.
In July, Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, said the administration was withdrawing 400 pending rules as part of President Trump's initiative to cut regulations, which he views as harmful to business.
“It is troubling to see the administration withdrawing scores of regulations that are required by law with little to no justification," said Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. "It adds to a pattern we’re seeing of this administration taking legally dubious actions in order to fast-track deregulation.”
Government-wide, Trump has ordered his department heads to cut two regulations for each one they issue.