For Immediate Release, February 1, 2007
Contacts: William Snape, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 536-9351
Dr. Stuart Pimm, Duke University (646) 489-5481
Seven Cabinet Secretaries Petitioned to Combat Global Warming
And Speed the Recovery of Endangered Species:
First Effort Ever to Seek Binding National Rules on Global Warming
WASHINGTON– Conservation organizations from all regions of the country today formally petitioned seven Bush administration cabinet secretaries to establish binding rules on global warming and the growing potential of significant wildlife extinctions this century. No federal agency presently possesses any regulations on the growing threat of global warming despite the fact that the Departments of Energy and Transportation alone oversee industries responsible for 73% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.
“Human destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats is causing species extinctions hundreds of times faster than normal. Climate change on its own will raise the rate to even higher levels. Worse still, the interaction of these two processes will be devastating,” explained Dr. Stuart Pimm, Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University and the University of Pretoria (South Africa). “A species’ only hope is to move to cooler regions, something it cannot do when no suitable habitat remains along its intended path.”
Today’s petition also seeks rules that would speed the recovery of endangered species by fundamentally changing the federal government’s focus on preventing extinction to achieving full recovery. It would require all federal agencies whose actions have an impact on endangered species to participate in the implementation of existing recovery plans established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. Presently, federal agencies routinely ignore and violate these science-based recovery plans.
“Upwards of one-quarter of all the world’s species could disappear forever this century if global warming trends continue,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re already seeing the devastating impacts on endangered species due to greenhouse pollutants. The Puerto Rican parrot, Alabama beach mouse and Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly have been pushed to the edge of extinction by recent Caribbean hurricanes. Pacific hurricanes contributed to the extinction of the Kauai ‘o’o, ‘O’u and other Hawaiian birds. Drought has reduced the masked bobwhite and Sonoran pronghorn to critically low numbers. Unnatural forest fires have ravaged the habitat for the Mount Graham red squirrel and Canada lynx. The polar bear was recently proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act due to melting sea ice, and many species of penguin may follow suit.”
Joining the current petition along with the Center for Biological Diversity include California Trout, Center for Native Ecosystems (Colorado), Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Conservation Northwest (Washington), Friends of the Clearwater (Idaho), RESTORE: The North Woods (Maine), Save the Manatee Club (Florida), Sea Turtle Restoration Project/Turtle Island Restoration Network and Arkansas Fly Fishers.
Just recently, petitioner Center for Biological Diversity filed papers in U.S. federal court to compel compliance by the Bush administration on mandatory climate change reporting requirements, including those relating to biological diversity and human health. Today’s petition requests the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and the secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, Defense, and Transportation to promulgate a sweeping set of regulations, including:
- requiring all federal agencies to include an assessment of global warming and its impacts on imperiled species when undertaking any major federal action, including all reviews under Sections 4, 7, 9, and 10 of the Endangered Species Act
- requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to conduct a study within three years identifying all threatened and endangered species likely to be impacted by global warming and whether their federal recovery plans need to be updated to better address the threat
- requiring all federal agencies to ensure their actions do not undermine the recovery of threatened and endangered species, to actively implement recovery plans already approved by the federal government, and to update recovery plans with the best available scientific information (including that related to global warming and habitat loss)
- requiring the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to include benefits as well as costs in their economic analyses of critical habitat for endangered species
- providing incentives to states, counties, cities, corporations, and private land owners to restore habitats and protect endangered species.
“We believe there are constructive solutions that can and must be initiated now so as not to destroy the legacy we leave to our children and their children. This petition would allow the administration to get constructively ahead of the global warming and extinction curve,” concluded Snape.
The Center for Biological Diversity and its 32,000 members are dedicated to the protection of all imperiled species and their ecosystems. Through its work on polar bears, penguins, corals, alternative fuels, hybrid cars and climate research, the Center has been a leader in addressing the impacts of global warming on wildlife, plants and humans.
Today’s petition and additional background information can be found at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/programs/bdes/gw-es/index.html