Thursday, May 12, 2011

Interior Dept. strikes deal to clear backlog on endangered species listings

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will clear a decades-long backlog of petitions for the endangered species list, agreeing to decide within six years whether 251 species deserve federal protection. The settlement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and WildEarth Guardians is a partial truce in the long-running battle between left-leaning environmental groups and Fish and Wildlife Service officials, who say they lack the resources to add all the plants and animals that deserve protection to the federal endangered species list. It could pave the way for an avalanche of new listings under the Endangered Species Act, though it also limits the number of species that the wildlife group can petition to list. Under the agency’s work plan, which it filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as part of its settlement, officials will decide whether to add to the endangered list 251 species that are now classified as “warranted but precluded” from the list. Frazer emphasized that many of the 251 species will end up being listed. “It’s likely that the majority of the species on the 2010 list will be proposed for endangered species protection,” he said...more

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