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For Immediate Release, February 13, 2012

Contact:         Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495      

Obama's Proposed Budget Short-changes Endangered Species,
Will Leave Nation’s Rare Wildlife in Jeopardy

PORTLAND, Ore.— President Barack Obama announced his proposed fiscal year 2013 budget today, including a total request of $1.3 billion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Although this request would be an increase for the agency as a whole, the requested budget for giving protection to additional wildlife species under the Endangered Species Act would remain flat, at just over $22 million. The administration is also asking for a cap that would limit the amount that could be spent on protecting species in response to scientific petitions from conservation groups and scientists to just $1.5 million.      

“Instead of asking for enough money to protect endangered plants and animals, the administration is again asking Congress to limit the amount it can spend,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This will ensure that hundreds of species that need Endangered Species Act protection will be left in the waiting room rather than receiving the emergency care they need.”

Under President Obama’s proposal, the total requested budget for the “listing program,” which is charged with identifying species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, is capped at $22,431,000. Within this amount, the administration is requesting limits on the amount that can be spent on designation of critical habitat ($7.4 million), listing species in response to petitions ($1.5 million), and listing foreign species ($1.5 million).

“Since the Endangered Species Act was passed, at least 24 species have gone extinct waiting for protection,” said Greenwald. “The requested cap all but ensures that more species will face risk of extinction while waiting for protection.”

Last year, the Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service that moves protection forward for hundreds of species, including roughly 250 species that have been stuck on a candidate list for an average of 20 years and will receive final decisions on their protection over the next five years. Decisions on protections for many other endangered species outside of the agreement will also need to be made in the coming years.

The Center, for example, petitioned to protect 404 species dependent on the beleaguered rivers of the southeastern United States. In accordance with the agreement, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued an initial decision on the petition last year, finding that 374 of the species may warrant protection, but with the administration’s proposed cap on spending, these species are unlikely to receive final protection decisions in the next several years.

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