Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Conservationists sued the Trump administration Wednesday for its interpretation of the Endangered Species Act that they said considerably weakens protection for threatened animals.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, said plaintiffs are challenging three revisions to protections for endangered animals and plants. They claim the changes make it harder for conservationists to win protections on animal habitats and would speed up their decline.
"Taken together, this package of regulatory changes undermines the fundamental purpose of the ESA 'to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, (and) to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species," the lawsuit reads. "The revised regulations violate the plain language and overarching purpose of the ESA; they also lack any reasoned basis and are arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act," the lawsuit continued.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said, though, the move adds clarity to the act and makes it more efficient.
"The act's effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation," he said.
Conservationists said with the increasing impact of climate change, the administration's rule changes make their effects even more challenging for endangered animals and plants.
"Trump's rules are a dream-come-true for polluting industries and a nightmare for endangered species," Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
"Scientists around the world are sounding the alarm about extinction, but the Trump administration is removing safeguards for the nation's endangered species. We'll do everything in our power to stop these rules from going forward."
Earthjustice filed the suit in federal court for the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, WildEarth Guardians, and the Humane Society of the United States.
"The new rules move the Endangered Species Act dangerously away from its grounding in sound science that has made the Act so effective -- opening the door to political decisions couched as claims that threats to species are too uncertain to address," Karimah Schoenhut, a Sierra Club attorney said in a statement.
"In the face of the climate crisis, the result of this abandonment of responsibility will be extinction," Schoenhut continued.
On Thursday, countries participating in the World Wildlife Conference in Switzerland voted to give greater protections to giraffes in hope of saving global populations and cracking down on the international trade of giraffe parts.