Do Endangered Species Have a Chance?

Center for Science in the public interest
June 2008
The House Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing this Wednesday on the politicization of the Endangered Species Act entitled The Danger of Deception: Do Endangered Species Have a Chance? The hearing features the testimony of activists and scientists who continue to experience obstacles to obtaining science-based protections for endangered species. Conservationists contend that despite the removal of the Interior Departments Julie MacDonald last year following allegations that she altered the decisions of scientists, agency officials continue to block protections for endangered species. Scott Black, a scientist with the Xerces Society, which seeks to protect invertebrates, notes that biologists within the agency are working to get species listed but are encountering resistance. Decisions are not being made from a scientific perspective, said Black. Science teams are coming up with decisions and those decisions are then summarily watered down or reversed. Others testifying at the upcoming hearing include the Government Accountability Office, which the FWS recently asked to review the eight endangered species decisions that the agency determined had been influenced by MacDonald; Jerry Franklin, a spotted owl scientist who was involved in the Clinton-era plan to recover the owl and who has been critical of the plans recent update; and Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has documented longstanding manipulation and distortion of scientific information at the Interior Department.