The federal Endangered Species Act is so cash-strapped that it is effectively “broken,” the Interior Department announced yesterday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service blamed the financial trouble on the act’s “critical habitat” provision, which requires federal agencies to consult with the USFWS before embarking on any activity in areas set aside for wildlife recovery. The agency claims critical habitat designations are redundant, unnecessary, and lead to expensive lawsuits (often by environmentalists) that siphon money away from more important aspects of species protection. According to USFWS Assistant Secretary Craig Manson, critical habitat funds will run dry in July, but the problem “cannot be satisfied simply by more money”; rather, he claimed, the ESA should be revised. Environmentalists disagree, saying underfunding is precisely the problem. “It doesn’t take rocket science. It takes a little bit of money,” said Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kieran Suckling.

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