Scientific body condemns Bush plan for endangered species
Scientists condemn Bush plan for endangered species
August 27, 2008
The Ecological Society of America defends scientific oversight for endangered species
The Ecological Society of America has come down handily against the Bush Administration’s proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The changes would eliminate the requirement for independent scientific review of federal projects, such as roads, dams, and mines, instead allowing federal agencies to conduct internal evaluations and then proceed as they see fit.
Currently over 2000 endangered species are listed under the ESA. In effect since 1973, the ESA has proved remarkably successful for the species under its protection: only nine listed species have gone extinct. By eliminating the requirement of federal projects to go through independent scientific review, the Bush Administration is essentially handing over the stewardship of threatened species to federal agencies.
“The concept of independent scientific review has been in practice since the 18th century and is crucial to ensuring that ideas and proposed work are scientifically sound,” said Alison Power, president of the Society. “This overhaul of the Endangered Species Act would place the fate of rare species in the hands of government stakeholders who are not qualified to assess the environmental impacts of their activities.”
The ocelot is a small cat rarely found in the United States due to hunting and habitat loss.
The Ecological Society of America cites a recent example to prove that federal agencies are not qualified to judge threats against species: half of the evaluations regarding wildfire prevention projects and endangered species by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management proved to be either legally or scientifically invalid, according to a later independent review by scientists from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“What if we allowed pharmaceutical companies to approve and distribute drugs without consulting the Food and Drug Administration?” she asks. “The result would spell potential disaster for humans. In this case, the vulnerable party is our environment.”
Representing 10,000 scientists in the U.S. and around the world, the Ecological Society of America is the largest professional organization of ecologists. Having been around for nearly a century, the society carries weight both in the scientific and governmental sectors.