Quantcast
Connect with us

Trump administration kills endangered species — and there’s a $2.3 million Bill Barr connection, too

Published

on

Thanks for your support!
This article was paid for by reader donations to Raw Story Investigates.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

Sarah Okeson
Sarah Okeson

Trump’s Fish and Wildlife Service has pushed an endangered freshwater mussel closer to extinction in its efforts to placate an energy company where Attorney General Bill Barr was once on the board.

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy want to route the proposed 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Hackers Creek in West Virginia, the site of the endangered clubshell mussel. Trump’s Fish and Wildlife Service authorized trying to rescue mussels which could be smothered by sediment from pipeline construction instead of rerouting the pipeline. Sixty-nine mussels were collected from the creek to be taken to the White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery, and most of them died.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The agency’s obligation is to protect this species including this population, not hasten its end,” said attorney Patrick Hunter of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Sixty-nine mussels were collected, and most of them died.

The clubshell mussel, listed as endangered in 1993, was once was found throughout the Ohio River basin and tributaries of western Lake Erie. The mussels now appear to be limited to 11 populations in 19 streams. Many of those don’t appear to be reproducing.

‘Indicator Species’

Mussels such as the clubshell serve as an indicator species much as the canaries that miners once carried to warn them of possible suffocation dangers. When mussels die off, that shows the streams aren’t healthy enough to support them. Clubshell mussels are vulnerable to being suffocated by sediment that flows into streams from farming or construction.

Dominion Energy, where Barr was paid $2.3 million in cash and stock awards as a board member, and Duke Energy want to build the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline to carry natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina. Plans for the pipeline include almost 12 miles of roads near Hackers Creek and 6.4 miles where pipeline could be laid.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that assesses the impact of pipelines on endangered species, is headed by Aurelia Skipwith, an attorney and former Monsanto employee, who was confirmed by the Senate in December. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has praised Trump’s efforts to speed up approvals for pipelines, was one of three Democrats who voted for Skipwith.

Agency Saw No Impact

The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in 2018 that the pipeline wouldn’t jeopardize the survival and recovery of the clubshell and three other species, the rusty patched bumble bee, the Indiana bat or the Madison Cave isopod.

Federal judges found that the Fish and Wildlife Service decided without legal authority that the clubshell population in Hackers Creek shouldn’t be protected because it didn’t appear to be reproducing. Judges also found flaws in the agency’s analysis of the three other species.

ADVERTISEMENT

Supreme Court Case

The Endangered Species Act “is not focused exclusively on protecting those populations that currently are naturally reproductive,” wrote Roger Gregory, the chief judge for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In November, Dominion Energy CEO Thomas Farrell told investors he expected to receive a new opinion from the Fish and Wildlife Service that would allow the company to resume construction on the pipeline. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case focusing on another aspect of the pipeline, whether it can cross the Appalachian Trail.

ADVERTISEMENT

Minutes from a meeting between federal regulators and employees from Dominion Energy and Duke Energy show that the Fish and Wildlife Service is once again considering authorizing the pipeline to cross the Hackers Creek watershed.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘They don’t understand what it means to be American’: Ex-Pentagon chief blasts White House

Published

on

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany explained Wednesday that President Donald Trump went to St. John's Church with his Bible because it's what former President George W. Bush did after Sept. 11 and what Winston Churchill did during World War II. The problem, of course, being that protesters demanding an end to police brutality aren't the same as Al-Qaeda or the Nazis and it's police killing unarmed Americans, not Black Lives Matter.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Comically ridiculous’: Kayleigh McEnany sparks outrage by comparing Trump to Winston Churchill

Published

on

At Wednesday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany compared President Donald Trump's church photo-op stunt to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspecting bombing damage during the Nazi raids in World War II.

Kayleigh compares the President’s photo op to Churchill inspecting bombing damage pic.twitter.com/KP5ovHMYzI

— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) June 3, 2020

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Team Trump ‘running for cover’ after attempt to crack down on protests results in ‘humiliation’: conservative columnist

Published

on

Writing in the Washington Post this Wednesday, columnist Jennifer Rubin writes that the "tear-gassing of peaceful protesters, the debasement of St. John’s Episcopal Church, the wholly inappropriate participation of the defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the goose step across Lafayette Square" were actually President Trump's way of compensating for reports that he retreated to an underground bunker when protesters got close to the White House.

Rubin points to Trump's claim that he went to the bunker for an "inspection." But according to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, he had no idea where Trump and the rest of his entourage were going.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image