Center for Biological Diversity

The Global Warming and Endangered Species Initiative

PARTNERS

Arkansas Fly Fishers

California Trout

Center for Native Ecosystems

Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future

Conservation Northwest

Friends of the Clearwater

RESTORE: The North Woods

Save the Manatee Club

BACKGROUND

The Endangered Species Act has been a tremendous success, rescuing 99% of protected species from extinction and putting the vast majority of them on the road to recovery. The Act promises to be our most powerful and effective tool for protecting imperiled species during a time of new challenges, from global warming to continuing habitat loss.

However, over the last six years the Bush administration has stalled the Act’s progress through poor implementation and squandered multiple millions of taxpayer dollars on federal projects that make global warming problems worse and significantly harm America’s wildlife and habitat.

Amidst growing evidence that many Bush administration environmental officials, particularly at the U.S. Department of the Interior, have been involved in financial or scientific corruption scandals, there is also concern that instead of cooperating with Congress over the next two years, the administration will use its regulatory powers to weaken many biodiversity-related protections.

On February 1, 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity and allied groups from around the country filed a petition under the Administrative Procedure Act to press the administration to adopt new regulations that would improve funding and implementation of the Endangered Species Act, address global warming, and safeguard many scientific decisions from political interference.


Whooping Crane, Robin Silver photo

The Center for Biological Diversity is pushing the Bush administration to change course and do better at protecting endangered species from global warming, habitat loss, and other threats.

 

On February 1, 2007, the Center filed a legal petition under the Administrative Procedure Act. This petition, the Global Warming and Endangered Species Initiative, asks the administration to take all possible legally authorized action to counteract global warming and other powerful forces driving species extinct. In the Initiative, the Center was joined by a diverse group of conservation, scientific and sportsmen’s groups from around the country who share our concern that global warming and habitat loss constitute a critical danger to our natural heritage.

The Global Warming and Endangered Species Initiative asks the administration to adopt new regulations that would:

  • Tackle the global warming threat.
    More than a million species may be at risk of future extinction due to global warming, and we’re already seeing the first extinctions. Though the Bush administration has denied and delayed action on global warming, its own government scientists have begun to recognize the potential impact on endangered species. The federal government must be required to address the global warming challenge in endangered-species recovery plans. It must also consider the effects of its actions—including those that will increase greenhouse gas emissions—on endangered species.
  • Put the focus on endangered species recovery.
    Species covered by legally approved recovery plans are more likely to improve, and implementing the actions in recovery plans has measurable benefits. Yet the administration has drastically scaled back recovery plan efforts during the last six years, and the lack of specific timelines for the development and adoption of recovery plans means that more than 199 species have been listed for over three years and still lack recovery plans. The goals and actions laid out in legally approved recovery plans must be implemented, and federal agencies must ensure that their actions do not hinder endangered species recovery.
  • Protect the habitat species need to recover.
    Loss of habitat is the primary threat to the vast majority of imperiled species, and protection and conservation of habitat is one of the most important factors in their recovery. The Endangered Species Act requires the protection of habitat that species need to survive and recover, but the Bush administration has provided inadequate habitat protections for listed species or left species without any designated critical habitat at all. Regulations should require critical habitat for all endangered species, including all areas essential to their recovery.
  • Fully fund endangered species programs.
    Everyone who cares about endangered species agrees that more funding is absolutely vital to getting the job done—funding to list species that scientists tell us are in danger of extinction, funding for effective incentives for landowners who are actively doing the right thing, and funding to implement and enforce endangered species recovery plans. Yet the administration has consistently underfunded even the core endangered species programs. We must promote adequate endangered species appropriations from Congress.

Learn more about:

Global Warming and Biodiversity

ESA Protections for the Polar Bear

On January 9, 2007, the Bush administration formally proposed listing the polar bear as “threatened” with extinction under the Endangered Species Act due to Arctic ice melt from global warming. This follows a multi-year court battle by the Center and its allies, NRDC and Greenpeace, to protect the bear from the impacts of global warming in the Arctic. The Center has also petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list 12 species of penguins that are threatened by global warming.

Global Warming Threats and Conservation Actions in Endangered Species Recovery Plans: A Preliminary Analysis

A Center for Biological Diversity survey of endangered species recovery plans indicates that federal biologists, when politically allowed, are increasingly identifying global warming as a significant threat to imperiled species, but that federal agencies have not yet begun to articulate specific recovery actions for endangered plants and animals that would curb the negative impacts of global warming. Read more.

Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to Recent Climate Change

Scientists are uncovering more and more far-reaching impacts of global warming on biodiversity. A 2006 review of hundreds of scientific studies showed that species around the globe are already feeling the effects of global warming, including a risk of imminent extinction for many cold-dependent species. See Parmesan, C. 2006. Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to Recent Climate Change. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 37:637–69. Available online here.

Endangered Species Recovery

ESA Works!

The numbers demonstrate the Endangered Species Act’s fundamental effectiveness at recovering endangered species. Recovery plan implementation is key to that success. For success stories and further information, visit ESAsuccess.org.

Recovery Plans Poorly Implemented

Unfortunately, even when species have approved recovery plans, those plans are frequently not implemented on the ground.

Endangered Species Habitat

Habitat Helps Recover Species

Endangered species that have critical habitat designated are twice as likely to be recovering as species that do not, a 2005 study shows. See Taylor, et al. The Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act: A Quantitative Analysis

BioScience 55(4):360-367, April 2005. Available online here.

Bush Administration Undermines Critical Habitat Protections

The Bush administration has executed the greatest rollback of endangered species habitat protection in the history of the Endangered Species Act, ignoring science to slash the size of proposed critical habitat designations.

Inadequate Funding for Endangered Species Programs

U.S. Senators Request More Funding for Endangered Species

As 30 U.S. senators declared in 2006, chronic underfunding of federal endangered species programs is a major stumbling block for recovery efforts.

Poor Funding Means Poor Results for Imperiled Species

This chronic underfunding has contributed to an endangered species listing crisis in which scores of critically imperiled species languish without needed ESA protections. The Bush administration has the worst record at listing species that need protection of any administration to date, a Center analysis reveals.