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By Andrew Follett
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) delayed listing a bumblebee as endangered Thursday, due to President Donald Trump’s freeze on publishing new regulations.
The Obama administration announced in mid-January the rusty patched bumblebee would become the first bee species to be listed as endangered — but the listing has been postponed until March 21. It’s fairly common for incoming administrations to issue a freeze on new rules until the transition is over.
“The Department is working as expeditiously as possible on this and expects to issue further guidance on the effective date of the listing shortly,” Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Interior, told The Washington Post.
The bee species is mostly threatened by a parasitic fungus and habitat destruction, leading to its population falling. FWS has determined that the species could go extinct within 40 years without federal intervention. Such intervention has been opposed by agricultural groups and energy firms, as it would interfere with their industries’ operations.
This is the first time a federal agency controlled by Trump has blocked an Endangered Species Act (ESA) designation. Previously, environmental groups used ESA to sue the agencies to issue politically contentious regulations and get all their legal fees paid for.
The Center For Biological Diversity (CBD), for example, used these “sue and settle” tactics to get the federal government to list species under ESA. CBD boasted on its website that these tactics were intended to end most oil and gas production in the U.S.
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