Conservation groups are lamenting that the current administration is slow in providing protection to species that are in danger of extinction.
In the first nearly two years of Obama’s presidency, his administration has only added 51 candidate species to the Endangered Species list.
This number is drastically lower than the most recent Democratic president, Bill Clinton. The Clinton administration averaged 65 species a year being given protections. During his presidency, 522 species in all were given protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The ESA is one of the most broad and powerful pieces of legislation in the world for protecting animals. Species who are thought to be dwindling are first added to a candidate list for ESA protection. The federal government reviews the candidates and can decide to give them protections under the ESA. Sometimes candidates can sit on the candidate list for decades waiting for protections.
The species are not given any protections until they are officially listed. Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity says the Obama administration lacks a sense of urgency about protecting species.
The Obama administration, however, is still miles ahead of George W. Bush, whose administration was as unfriendly toward the ESA as he was toward other environmental protection policies.
Extinction means a finality that we have trouble comprehending. It’s impossible for us to grasp the integral role that every species plays in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Every link in the chain we break by letting a species be completely eradicated, is another piece of the Earth that dies with it.
The CBD says that 24 species have become extinct while on the candidate list waiting for protections from the federal government. We simply can’t tolerate another.