CLEANING UP THE BUSH LEGACY
The years 2000 through 2008 — the two presidential terms served by George W. Bush — amount to what might be called a Dark Ages for endangered species in America. The Bush government was hands-down the worst in history for listing species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, with only 62 species earning federal protection throughout the entire eight years — compared to 522 under the Clinton administration and 231 under George Bush, Sr. Besides dragging its feet in responding to listing petitions, fighting stubbornly and often deviously against protecting species in court, and constantly using the “candidate list” to put off protections indefinitely for fast-fading plants and animals, the Bush administration regularly stooped to corrupt tactics that let politics dictate endangered species decisions to put industry interests over conservation. Even for species that did earn Endangered Species Act status under Bush, true protections weren’t guaranteed — take the polar bear for example, which was robbed of protections from global warming by a special "4(d)" rule finalized in late 2008. And in case all that wasn’t enough to ensure Bush’s eco-infamy down through the ages, right before he left office he finalized changes gutting the rules that have made the Endangered Species Act successful for 35 years. Thankfully, Center advocacy led to current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar rescinding the rules eviscerating the Act — but Salazar proved intractable in his refusal to revoke the 4(d) rule, which would doom the polar bear to extinction.
Needless to say, the Center was busy throughout George W. Bush’s anti-wildlife presidency, not only with lawsuits for individual species but also leading the way in exposing the administration’s bad actions to the media and policymakers and pushing the drive to reform. Unfortunately, the mess Bush made of our country’s relationship to nature is a big one, and we’re still cleaning it up.
LITIGATING POLITICAL CORRUPTION
To combat corruption in the government agencies that are charged with stopping extinctions the Center kicked off, in 2007, the biggest endangered species litigation action ever undertaken, a campaign for 55 imperiled species and more than 8 million acres of habitat wrongly denied federal protection because of Bush administration political interference. Read more.
THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT EVISCERATION AND POLAR BEAR EXTINCTION RULE
Right before leaving office, the Bush administration issued two regulations that eviscerated the central Endangered Species Act process and excluded the greatest future threat to endangered species — global warming — from consideration under the Act. The policies drew lawsuits by the Center, other environmental groups, and nine states. Read more.
DEFENDING THE ACT FROM BAD BUSH POLICIES
In 2007, the Bush administration’s Interior solicitor issued a memorandum reinterpreting a key provision of the Endangered Species Act to substantially limit its ability to help endangered plants and animals recover. The Center is leading a campaign to get this policy revoked under the Obama presidency. Read more.