ATLANTA — The federal government plans to weaken how the Endangered Species Act is enforced.

The Trump Administration say the planned changes will cut down on regulations, but critics say it will drive more animals to extinction and reverse the good the law has done.

The law is credited with helping save so many plants and animals from extinction, including the bald eagle and the California condor, to name a few. The 45-year-old law, has been on the books since 1973, when then-President Richard Nixon signed it.

Drafts of the proposal released last year included stopping blanket protections for animal designated as threatened. That would allow the government, for the first time, to consider the economic cost of protecting a specific species.

The consideration had been ruled out by Congress to prevent industries from pushing to block protections based on economic grounds.

Another change would allow the government to ignore impacts from climate change, an issue that conservation groups say poses the largest threat to habitats.

At least 10 attorneys general have teamed up with conservation groups in protest. They say the changes will put more wildlife at a greater risk of extinction more quickly.

Right now the Endangered Species Act protects more than 1,600 species in the United States and its territories.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Georgia is home to 62 species of plants and animals protected under the law, including the West Indian manatee and the humpback whale along the coast.

On a global scale, more than one million plants and animals face extinction, some within decades. That's according to a May report from the United Nations.

It blames human development and climate change, in part, for what it calls a record rate of species loss.

Conservationists and attorneys general from California and Massachusetts have promised to take the issue to court.


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