The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
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President Obama's Proposed Budget Short-changes Endangered Species

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Funding Request Falls Far Short of What Is Needed to Protect, Recover Nation's Endangered Species


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's budget request for Fiscal Year 2017 continues a trend of flat or declining funding for the protection and recovery of endangered species. The Service's overall budget request for the endangered species program increased slightly to $251 million from $234 million, but still represents less than 15 percent of the $2.2 billion in annual subsidies the federal government gives to oil and gas companies to extract fossil fuels on public lands.

"We're deeply disappointed that once again the Obama administration has failed to request sufficient funds to ensure the survival and recovery of the nation's plants and animals that are on the brink of extinction," said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of more than 99 percent of the species under its protection and put hundreds on the road to recovery, but much more money is needed to fully implement the law and ensure recovery for the more than 1,500 threatened and endangered species in the U.S."

As part of the president's budget request, the Fish and Wildlife Service requested an additional $6 million, for a total of approximately $89 million, for the recovery of 1,619 species. This represents an increase of only 7 percent from last year, despite more than 200 species having been added to the endangered list in the past five years. In inflation-adjusted dollars, this level of funding is virtually the same as what was provided to the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2010.

"The reality is that hundreds of endangered species receive less than $5,000 per year for their recovery and, of those, more than 100 receive less than $1,000 per year or just $3 per day," said Hartl. "We need a much stronger commitment from the next president and the next director of the Fish and Wildlife Service if we're going to tackle the extinction crisis occurring right here in the United States."

In its proposal the administration requested approximately $22.9 million to protect additional imperiled species as threatened or endangered -- a small increase from last year, but roughly the same amount of funding received in 2010. This is despite the fact that the Fish and Wildlife Service faces a backlog of more than 500 species awaiting protection decisions.

"Delaying protection for species increases extinction risk and ultimately makes recovery more expensive," said Hartl. "Yet year after year, the Fish and Wildlife Service fails to ask for the money needed to consider additional species for protection."

In contrast to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, which has responsibility for only 87 domestic endangered species, requested an additional $31.2 million for its implementation of the Endangered Species Act for a total of $216 million,

"The Obama administration is just not asking for the money needed by the Fish and Wildlife Service to fully implement the Endangered Species Act," said Hartl.

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.

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