For immediate release: February 7, 2006
Contact: Melissa Waage, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 736-5760, firstname.lastname@example.org
BUSH BUDGET CONTINUES TO SHORTCHANGE ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTIONS
Washington, DC—The president’s budget, released today, would cut funding for key endangered species and wildlife protection programs. The cuts proposed for Fiscal Year 2007 are only the latest step backward from an administration that has consistently requested far less money than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to fulfill its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. The president’s budget also cuts funding for national wildlife refuges, even as Fish and Wildlife desperately needs more funds to repair more than $200 million in damage to refuges from last year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes.
“Years of under-funding have hobbled the Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to halt extinction and put endangered and threatened species on the road to recovery,” said Melissa Waage with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The president’s budget request digs that hole even deeper by continuing to underfund endangered species protection and recovery.”
Though the Endangered Species Act’s fundamental purpose is to protect and recover species on the brink of extinction, the president’s budget would cut endangered species recovery by $7.6 million below 2006 levels.
This year the administration seeks $9.2 million in additional funds to “clear the backlog” of oil and gas drilling permit applications. The backlog of hundreds of species awaiting endangered species listing decisions and critical habitat designations, however, is not as fortunate in the president’s budget. The endangered species listing account should receive at least $30 million to address both the backlog and the current year’s workload. However, the president’s budget proposes funding the listing account at only $17.8 million, $340,000 less than was requested last year.
The budget also requests less than last year for the endangered species consultation account, which funds the development of Habitat Conservation Plans as well as consultation between federal agencies when a federal project may harm an endangered species. “Candidate species” conservation would receive a cut of $556,000, hampering efforts to protect species before they have declined enough to require listing.
Meanwhile, the national wildlife refuge fund would suffer a cut of more than $3 million, for a total request of $10 million. In September 2005, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that it would require $227 million to repair refuges devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The administration has requested only $61 million in supplemental hurricane funding for the refuge system.
* The Green Budget is the annual budget request recommended by conservation organizations based on the known needs of conservation programs and agencies.