Biden administration reinstates bird protection, repeals Trump rule
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Wednesday called on former President Donald J. Under Trump, protections for migratory birds were restored, a move celebrated by conservationists but expected to escalate tensions between the administration and the oil and gas industry.
The move comes at a time when some bird species are disappearing from the planet. Scientists said North America has lost nearly three billion birds in the past 50 years. In addition to suffering from habitat loss and climate change, they are killed by collisions with buildings, power lines and communication towers. They die in oil waste pits and oil spills.
Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland said the agency will formally repeal a rule enacted in the days of the Trump presidency that protects businesses, landlords and others from legal consequences if their activities inadvertently kill birds. .
This meant that a construction crew that razed a barn with owl nests, or an oil company responsible for a devastating spill that killed thousands of birds, could not be punished.
Instead, the Biden administration will return to a longer interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 that prohibits “accidental” harm to birds, Ms Haaland said. She said restoring federal protection is an important step because some industries have taken voluntary measures to protect the birds, yet populations are declining.
The losses are part of a growing global biodiversity crisis – driven by habitat loss, climate change and other human activities – that puts a million species at risk of extinction. Earlier on Wednesday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing 22 animals and one plant from the endangered species list because they have become extinct. One, Bachchan’s Yoddha, was an expatriate lyricist who hasn’t been seen since 1988.
“This moment, as serious as it is, could serve as a wake-up call,” Ms Haaland said during a call with reporters. “Our children and grandchildren will not know the earth until we change the status quo.”
But restoring the security lost under former President Trump is not enough, said Eric Schneider, policy manager for the National Audubon Society. He wants the Biden administration to move beyond the new rule.
“If we’re going to bring back three billion birds and protect birds from climate change, we also need a massive government effort to step up bird conservation efforts,” he said.
Oil industry representatives, who were with the Biden administration on separate attempts to lease fossil fuels on public lands, denounced the regulation and said the agency was lashing out at them for harm. Most of the prosecutions under the law have been against energy companies.
“This rule takes us back to a time when federal agencies selectively prosecuted oil and natural gas companies,” said Kathleen Sagma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, a consortium of independent oil and gas firms, in an email. wrote. He declared the new testament to be “legally weak”.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted to protect the birds from over-hunting and poaching, at a time when the snowy heron’s feathers were in such high demand for cap ornamentation that the bird was nearly hunted to extinction. It also makes it illegal “by any means or by any means” to hunt, take, capture or kill birds, nestlings or eggs of listed species without a permit.
In the early 1970s, federal officials used the act to prosecute and impose fines of up to $15,000 per bird for accidental deaths on power lines, cellphone towers, wind turbines or other industrial hazards.
In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 people and spilled more than 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of birds were killed, and BP agreed to pay $100 million for criminal violations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
In 2017 the Trump administration reinterpreted the law, protecting companies from liability unless they knowingly and knowingly sought to kill birds. A final regulation was issued days before Mr Trump stepped down despite a tough ruling from a federal judge who scrapped the policy in response to a legal challenge from a coalition of eight state attorneys general and environmental groups.
The repeal of Mr Trump’s rule will take effect in 60 days from October 4. In addition, the Interior Department said it would comment on a possible new permitting system so that some companies are not penalized if birds are killed or injured despite proper precautions while doing business.
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