Environmentalists are in a lather over White House executive orders they claim will lead to the extinction of the endangered rusty patched bumblebee. One is an executive order (EO) halting any new rule making by any agency for two months “until a department or agency head… reviews and approves the regulation.” Just like Obama did when he took office in 2009.

Donald Trump also signed an EO called the “one in, two out” rule, which requires eliminating two regulations for every new one that’s generated.

Any existing regulations or policies already rolled out wouldn’t be affected by the orders. Enviros are worried the bumblebee species Bombus affinis will face extinction under these EOs.

Rusty patched bumblebee

Shortly before President Obama left office, the once-abundant rusty patched bumblebee was added to the Endangered Species Act.

Since the mid-1990s, its population has dropped nearly 87 percent. Scientists blame the losses on a variety of factors, including pesticides (neonicotinoids), environment loss, and disease from parasitic fungus.

Now the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is adding another ‘extinction’ factor to the list: The Trump presidency. A senior NRDC attorney said the new administration has “put the rusty patched bumblebee back on the path to extinction.” They believe it can be saved but only if the White House backs down.

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Killer queen

But bumblebee populations remain dependent on a queen, who remains dormant during the winter. Once the queen emerges in the spring, she spends the next month creating her colony. The order placing new regulations on hold and causing activists so much alarm will have already expired by late March.

It’s also unclear if the EO would even affect existing endangerment findings.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS,) the endangerment listing of the bumblebee allows the agency to take steps to prevent further losses. Midwest regional director Tom Melius pointed out the listing allows the FWS and its partners to devote more resources toward preventing further bee decline.

Confirming Ryan Zinke

FWS said while the bumblebee may be a small cross-pollinator, it is part of the “natural mechanisms that sustains our world.” FWS estimated bumblebees pollinate about a third of all U.S.

crops. Without insect pollination, most vegetation wouldn’t survive and the world would have to resort to hand pollination, a costly endeavor.

In 2009, Rahm Emanuel wrote a similar EO when Obama’s administration took office in 2009. But this time around Democrats are slow-rolling the confirmation of Trump’s Interior pick, so activists are blaming the wrong branch of government. Based on the order, Rep. Ryan Zinke can approve and enforce this recent ESA addition once he's confirmed.

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