Plenty of issues will separate Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Margaret Good in their race to represent Florida’s 16th Congressional District.

But the Trump administration’s frightening effort to weaken the landmark Endangered Species Act is not a point of contention.

Both Buchanan, the incumbent, and Good, a state representative from Sarasota, recently issued strong statements opposing the U.S. Department of Interior’s plans.

That’s both encouraging and appropriate. The Endangered Species Act has benefited from bipartisan support since it was signed into law in 1973 by Republican President Richard Nixon.

For more than 45 years, the law has been enforced and defended by both Republican and Democratic administrations — until now.

The law will need that bipartisan support — from both members of Congress and the public — if it is to survive this threat.

On Aug. 12, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced that the administration would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied.

The New York Times reported the 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.”

The changes would also make it harder for regulators to consider climate change's effects on wildlife, because those threats tend to be long-term, not immediate. The revised rules likely would make it easier to permit mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.

The rules are expected to go into effect in September.

Environmental groups, Democrats in Congress and others denounced the changes and vowed to challenge them.

Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, though a stalwart conservative on many fiscal and social issues, has a long record of support for animal protection.

So it was no surprise that he sent a strong letter to Bernhardt urging that he reconsider the “ill-advised proposal” threatening what he called “the gold standard for conservation and protection of wildlife.”

“It would be unconscionable to weaken the very safeguards that have kept these animals alive for nearly half a century,” Buchanan wrote, “especially in the wake of a recent UN report showing that one million species of wildlife and plants are now threatened with extinction across the globe.”

In her statement, Good referred to the particular threat to Florida, where the manatee was likely saved from extinction and where the Florida panther struggles to survive even now.

“There are very few states where the endangered species act has had more impact than Florida,” Good said. “Preserving our natural heritage is a key part of keeping our environment strong and preserving our tourism economy.”

Buchanan and Good need the help of other lawmakers and the public in defending the Endangered Species Act. We urge you to write your representative and senators and tell them to oppose crippling this law’s vital protections.