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The government revived an old law that could save countless plants and animals from the brink of extinction

The changes that the Trump administration made to the law took place as the former president was about to leave office.

Endangered species laws

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The Biden administration is seeking to reverse a series of recent changes to the 1973 Endangered Species Act. This decision could help save endangered plants and animals from extinction, the Associated Press reported.

The changes that the Trump administration made to the law took place as President Trump was about to leave office.

David Henkin, an attorney for Earthjustice, said, "On the way out the door, the Trump administration tosses more handouts to its favored polluting industries — drillers, miners, and industrial clear-cutting operations — at the expense of wildlife facing extinction."

Earthjustice and other environmental groups then called on the Biden administration to reverse those changes, and after two years of waiting, the current government has finally acted on some of the most major changes. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that it will reinstate blanket protections for species newly classified as threatened. 

In addition, officials will no longer consider "economic impacts" when deciding whether animal or plant species need protection (i.e., whether a polluting company could make more money by driving a species to extinction than it could by allowing that species to continue to exist on Earth).

However, the new rules still may take another year to finalize.

The Biden administration had already rolled back a couple of the Trump administration's anti-environmental policies — including one which eliminated endangered species protections for the northern spotted owl and another that limited which lands and waters could be designated as places where plants and animals receive protections.

There are more Trump-era changes to the law that threaten endangered species that the Biden administration has not yet touched. 

One of these allows new development to harm a section of a habitat containing an imperiled species as long as it does not harm the entire habitat. Another allows agencies to approve new projects without guaranteeing that habitat harm will be reduced.

Henkin described the Trump-era changes as "lawlessness and willingness to trash this planet."

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