FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Melanie Gade, email@example.com (202)772-0288
Date: Dec 14, 2015
New analysis dispels myths about the Endangered Species Act, but raises other questions about how federal agencies have implemented the law
WASHINGTON – A new analysis of how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has assessed the impact of projects on imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) finds that over the last seven years not one out of over 88,000 projects was stopped because of the FWS finding that a project would threaten a species’ survival.
The analysis, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, evaluates how the FWS has implemented one of the most important protections of the act, Section 7 consultations. Section 7 requires all federal agencies to consult with the FWS or National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure that the actions they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to “jeopardize” a species or “destroy or adversely modify” critical habitat.
Senior Director of Endangered Species Conservation for Defenders of Wildlife and a coauthor on the paper, Ya-Wei Li, issued the following statement:
“The Endangered Species Act includes a basic, common sense, look-before-you-leap requirement: federal agencies must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that their proposed actions won’t threaten a listed species’ survival. While our findings should lay to rest the unfounded claims by ESA-opponents that the act is destroying jobs and the economy, the study raises significant questions as to why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has virtually ceased finding that any projects threaten a species’ survival.
“This trend over the past seven years is very much at odds with past consultation results stretching back to the late 1970s, when it was more common for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find that proposed projects jeopardized a species. But even back then, the vast majority of projects – 99.9% – still proceeded ultimately with only limited modifications, again dispelling the myth that the Endangered Species Act blocks projects and kills jobs across the country.
“We are analyzing why none of the over 88,000 federal projects were stopped because they would threaten a species’ survival. We need to find the reasons so that Section 7 consultations can best further the goals of the Endangered Species Act.”
- Published article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1516938112 ; Article also available for download at www.defenders.org/publications/section-7-pnas.pdf
- Defenders’ Section 7 Homepage: www.defenders.org/section-seven
- Defenders’ Section 7 Database: www.defenders.org/section7
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