Albion Monitor /News

Endangered Species Not Protected Says Interior Dept.

by Philip E. Daoust

Only 22% of recently added species receive protection

(AR) WASHINGTON -- According to an Interior Department report released at the end of October, about one-third of the plants and animals listed under the Endangered Species Act are not being protected.

Many of the species still declining were recently added to the act. Programs to protect others have yet to be fully implemented, or need time before the results are measurable, the report said.

In 25 years, from 1968 to 1993, only seven species on the endangered list are believed to have become officially extinct. But it appears that species added to the list in the five years after the law passed have done much better than those added to the list more recently.

From 1968 to 1973 there were 106 species listed. Today, more than half (or 58 percent) are considered stable and increasing. However, from 1989 to 1993, nearly three times as many species, 294, were placed under federal protection. But only 22 percent are receiving the protection they need, the report said.

Republicans rushed program through Congress at dizzying speed

Asst. Interior Secretary George Frampton criticized Congress for slashing funding for species-recovery programs and listing of species that may be at risk even before qualifying for protection under the law. Frampton is responsible for fish, wildlife and parks programs at the Interior Dept.

Frampton said legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would "basically wipe out" recovery plans and put endangered species protections "under a serious cloud."

Republican leaders of the GOP-controlled Congress have led an effort in the back rooms of the Capitol to revamp many of the nation's environmental protection laws.

In a recent column, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit wrote that the "Republican program is being rushed through Congress at dizzying speed, which is troubling," he said, "for in the frenzied blur, few people outside the committee chambers know how, much less why, it is being carried out at all."

Supporters of the new bill argue that current law puts the interests of endangered species before that of people whose livelihoods are effected by restrictions on the use of land species inhabit.

On October 31st, Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., said the Senate would probably not have time this year to vote on changes to the Endangered Species Act. In July, Gorton promised to have a new bill drafted and passed before the Congress recesses for the year in December.

As the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, Gorton said he would continue his efforts to rewrite the law early in the next Congress. Gorton wants to shift authority for protecting endangered and threatened species to the secretaries of agriculture and interior.

Currently the law requires the government to take whatever measures necessary to protect a listed species or a species that may need to be listed.

Gorton also said Congress would not approve any plan by President Clinton to change a bill that allows logging in national forests, primarily in Washington and Oregon.

The bill was rushed through Congress by Republicans as a rider and signed into law by the president in July. It suspends environmental laws through 1996 to allow the sale of dead and live timber.

But in a recent Saturday radio address, President Clinton announced the White House will now challenge the bill. The president said he thought the bill he signed allowed logging of salvageable timber only if it adhered to the administration s environmental standards.

Clinton has been sharply criticized by environmental groups who accused the president of caving into Republican threats and betraying his oath to protect the habitats of endangered species. In response, the Forest Service refused to release timber sales to loggers because of the danger posed to threatened and endangered species.

But U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan in Eugene, Ore., heard the case and ordered the Forest Service to release the timber sales to their buyers. Hogan based his ruling on the new legislation signed by the president.

Clinton said the law could lead to "grave environmental injury to [the endangered] chinook salmon and other wildlife and damage our rivers and streams.

"My administration will actively pursue a legislative remedy to correct this extreme result," he said.

But the administration suffered a major setback on October 25 when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied a motion to delay logging and sale of old-growth timber in the Pacific Northwest.

Clinton had first vetoed the legislation but then approved it as an amendment to a comprehensive budget bill.

Philip E. Daoust writes for The American Reporter.

Albion Monitor November 14, 1995 (

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