From: "John Puschock" <>
Date: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 9:58 AM
Subject: [FlaBirding] Endangered species news
News from the Center of Biological Diversity by way of the HerpDigest.
President¹s Bush¹s Record on Listing of Endangered Species and the Critical
Habitat Designation Listings
Bush has listed only 20 species under the ESA since coming into office- the
second slowest listing record in the history of the ESA. The only slower
period was Reagan's listing of 17 species in 1982 and 1983. Clinton listed
211 species in the same time period of his first term; Bush Sr. listed 80 in
the same time period.
All Bush listings were in response environmental lawsuits and petitions. He
is the only president in in the history of the ESA to not have listed any
species of his own initiative.
When forced by the courts to render decisions on the protection of imperiled
species, the Bush administration routinely stalls the process declaring that
the species are "warranted-but-precluded" for listing. This means they have
been found to warranted listing, but issuance of a proposed listing rule is
precluded by efforts to list higher priority species. The ESA only allows
the use of warranted-but-precluded findings when the government can prove it
is "making expeditious progress" on higher priority listings. Given that
Bush is making slower progress than any administration since Reagan in
1982-1983, its use of the warranted-but-precluded loophole is entirely
Bush is also the only president in history to declare that extinction is
insignificant. Under Bush, the National Marine Fisheries Service declared
that the orcas of Puget Sound (known formally as the southern resident
population) are genetically and culturally distinct from all other orcas and
that they are going extinct. But it refused to list them under the ESA
because the population is "not significant." This ESA loophole has never
previously been invoked.
The Bush administration appointed Allan K. Fitzsimmons to head the
Department of Interior's "healthy forests initiative." In an 2000 essay
entitled "Ecological Confusion Among the Clergy," Mr. Fitzsimmons referred
to the 1,201 species on the endangered species list, saying: "If each of
these species were to become extinct tomorrow, our total biological
endowment would decline by less than one percent, which would be a
disconcerting loss but would not constitute a crisis."
In the case of bombing impacts to species on a military training ground in
the Pacific, the Bush administration angered a federal judge by arguing that
killing birds benefits bird watchers by making them more rare and thus more
interesting to see.
The Bush administration has issued 33 critical habitat designations. Every
one was under court order.
It reduced the size of 73% (24) between the proposed and final rule, but did
not increase the size of any. Cumulatively, the proposed designations were
reduced by 51%, totaling almost 39 million acres.
The Bush administration has adopted an illegal policy that critical habitat
proposal can not be expanded, regardless of comments received on the
proposal. In the case of the San Bernardino kangaroo rat, the administration
reduced the proposed rule by 22,113 acre even though all six peer reviewers
stated that the proposal needed to be increased in size. In the case of the
Mexican spotted owl, it reduced the critical habitat proposal by 8.9 million
acres over the objections of agency biologists. A federal judge struck down
the decision in January, calling the designation "nonsensical" because it
excluded over 90% of all known owl locations and virtually all lands under
actual threat of logging. The judge also ruled that the administration
circumvented the peer review policy by refusing to publicly release the
management plans upon which its decision was based.
Although critical habitat areas are supposed to correspond with the recovery
needs of the species, the Bush administration's designation routinely
contradict official U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plans. It claims
it can determine the recovery needs of the species independently of agency
The Bush administration is the first in the history of the ESA to exclude
areas it determined to be "essential to the conservation" of endangered
species due to the economic impact of protection those areas. It judged the
economic impact to be greater than the benefit to the species. In one case,
the economic activity deemed more important than endangered species
protection was cattle grazing on a U.S. military base.
>From the Center for Biological Diversity <www.biologicaldiversity.org>
POB 710, Tucson, AZ 85702-0710
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