On the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement that it recommends declaring 23 species extinct, Earthjustice calls on the Biden administration to take swift action to prevent further biodiversity loss. The most immediate action the Biden administration can take is restoring the Endangered Species Act to its full power. Additionally Congress must fully fund the programs and people who work jobs to ensure the protections of species.
In 2019 and 2020, the Trump administration rolled back many of the provisions of the law that serves as the last safety net for animals and plants facing extinction. Among the changes the prior administration made were allowing consideration of economic factors in decisions about whether species are listed as threatened or endangered, stripping newly listed threatened species of automatic protection, weakening protection of species’ habitat, and relaxing consultation standards that are meant to ensure federal agencies avoid jeopardizing species’ survival. These rollbacks effectively gut the law making it easier for private corporations and extractive industries to drill, mine, clear-cut, and otherwise exploit the lands and waters these species need to survive. Earthjustice has three active lawsuits challenging these changes.
Earlier this year, Earthjustice announced its Biodiversity Defense program, a new litigation team focused on confronting the major drivers of biodiversity loss. The following is a statement from Tim Preso, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Biodiversity Defense program:
“Today’s announcement is a tragic indictment of how humanity has failed our fellow inhabitants of the planet, and how we’ve failed our children and grandchildren. We must use this moment to re-evaluate our relationship with the natural world. The protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act likely came too late to save the Ivory Billed Woodpecker and the Kauai O’o and the 21 other animals and plants we say goodbye to today. But we have other species in crisis including wolves, salmon, Florida panthers, Monarch butterflies, and many others both iconic and humble, but all that hold intrinsic worth. The last thing we should be doing is weakening the law that protects them or not providing enough money to do the job. Otherwise there will be more extinctions to follow today’s sad news.”