The new rules would make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and weaken protections for threatened species, the classification one step below endangered. And, for the first time, regulators would be allowed to conduct economic assessments — for instance, estimating lost revenue from a prohibition on logging in a critical habitat — when deciding whether a species warrants protection.
This rule-change does not allow economic impacts to affect whether a species is listed as endangered or threatened. Indeed, the rule explicitly “acknowledge[s] that the statute and its legislative history are clear that listing determinations must be made solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available” according to five statutory factors. Thus, the rule gives the agency no authority to decline to list a species based on the economic impacts of such decision. If the agency attempted to do so, it would violate the statute and the rule.