Green group files lawsuit to protect 681 species
Environmentalists filed suit last week against the U.S. Interior Department, seeking to force the agency to review and issue findings on the status of 681 species vulnerable to extinction. WildEarth Guardians, which filed the suit, contends that the Bush administration has deliberately stalled Endangered Species Act listing decisions to appease developers and other interests; the group wants to compel the agency to tackle its species-listing backlog. A recent Washington Post investigation shows just how much Interior has been stalling on the species front. Over the past seven years, the Bush administration has listed only 59 species total under the ESA; in contrast, Clinton listed an average of 62 each year, and Bush’s father listed about 58 each year. More important, the Bush administration has made it much more difficult for imperiled species to get protection in the first place. At various times, it’s disregarded scientific advisers, narrowed a species’ protected range to areas where it is currently found instead of its historic range, and barred the use of information from agency files to support new listings, among other tactics.