What happened: The Department of the Interior (DOI) dismantled the role of science in informing protections for endangered and threatened species. Until this point, the decisions guiding the Endangered Species Act have been based only on the best available science. However, with the DOI’s new rule, federal agencies will now be forced to weigh economic considerations in the listing process, ignore the impact that climate change has on species’ habitats, and allow the hunting, fishing, or unintentional killing of threatened species.
Why it matters: Scientific evidence has been the bedrock of listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act since the legislation was passed. Without listing decisions being based solely on science, the Endangered Species Act will not be as effective at bringing back hundreds of species back from the brink of extinction as it once was. This weakening of the law will make it difficult to protect endangered and threatened species and could result in significant losses in biodiversity.
Learn more about how science is being forced to take a backseat in how we protect endangered and threatened species.