The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Suit to Challenge Protection Delay for 144 Species

Interior Department Fails to Act as Species Spiral Toward Extinction


The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of intent to sue
the Obama administration today for failing to make required findings to
determine whether 144 species warrant protection under the Endangered
Species Act, including the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, 32 Pacific
Northwest mollusks, Amargosa toad, giant Palouse earthworm, and many

"We had hoped the Obama administration
would move far more quickly to provide protection for endangered
species than Bush did, but so far this has not been the case," said
Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for
Biological Diversity. "Continued delay of protection places these 144
species in real jeopardy."

Under the Endangered
Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to respond
to petitions to list species within legally enforceable timelines.
Within 90 days of receiving a petition, they are required to determine
whether the petition warrants further consideration; within 12 months
they are required to determine whether petitioned species warrant
protection or not; and finally, within 12 months of finding a species
does warrant protection, they are required to issue a final rule
listing the species. For each of the 144 species, the agency has missed
one or both of these deadlines. In several cases, findings are years

"Wholesale reform is needed at the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service to unseat a culture of delay and foot
dragging," said Greenwald. "We've yet to see comprehensive reform in
the endangered species program under the Obama administration."

144 petitioned species add to the backlog of 249 candidate species
recognized by the Fish and Wildlife Service as warranting protection,
but for which the agency claims it lacks the resources to actually
provide protection. The agency's claims of lack of resources are
undermined by the fact that the listing budget has increased by 275
percent between 2002 and 2009 and the fact that the agency used to list
considerably more species in past years. Under the Clinton
administration, a total of 522 species were listed for a rate of 65
species per year. Since 2001, however, only 64 species have been
listed, including two by the Obama administration, for a rate of fewer
than eight species per year.

"There are hundreds
of wildlife species facing extinction and in need of protection," said
Greenwald. "With the necessary political will and a can-do attitude,
these species could easily be protected under the Endangered Species
Act in a matter of a few years; there's just no justification for
further delay."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252