Handing protected public lands over to businesses is central to efforts to weaken the ESA, and would pose serious threats in the longer term.
"[The ESA] was once broadly bipartisan and passed by huge margins and signed by a Republican president ... Now we're in this tragic situation," Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director of WildEarth Guardians, told The Dodo. "These moves to privatize public lands are at the behest of special interests. Folks do not want to have to think about if they'll cause the extinction of a species if they push through a pipeline or clear cut a national forest or mine public lands."
Cotton explained that federal authority is key for protecting animals, especially when they live across a number of states. "Putting control into local hands on how to manage an endangered species habitat would result in mayhem for the ESA," she said. "Giving state governors the ability to veto federal protections and transferring power to protect species into local hands results in a patchwork of protections."