US proposes ending rule that weakened wild bird protections

Matthew Brown
Associated Press

Billings, Mont. — The Biden administration on Monday proposed revoking a rule imposed under former President Donald Trump that weakened the government's power to enforce a century-old law that protects most U.S. bird species.

The Interior Department announcement comes after officials in March said they were reversing a Trump policy that ended criminal prosecutions against companies responsible for bird deaths that could have been prevented.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said revoking the regulatory changes finalized in Trump's last days was part of efforts to ensure that agency decisions are guided by science.

“The Migratory bird Treaty Act is a bedrock environmental law that is critical to protecting migratory birds and restoring declining bird populations,” Haaland said in a statement.

In this June 26, 2010, file photo, Plaquemines Parish Coastal Zone Director P.J. Hahn rescues a heavily oiled bird from the waters of Barataria Bay, La.

The prohibition against accidental bird deaths was used most notably in a $100 million settlement by energy company BP after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill killed about 100,000 birds, according to federal data. Some scientists have said that number could be higher.

Industry groups supported the Trump policy, but since President Joe Biden took office they have expressed willingness to work with the Democrat.