ESA in the news: WildEarth Guardians is (finally) letting FWS set (some) priorities, and worthy books and articles defend the ESA, but opposition still abundant.
Maybe, just maybe, there will be a bit less ESA litigation in the future, thanks to a new agreement by WildEarth Guardians to limit its lawsuits, in return for a commitment by the Obama Administration to address candidate species and petitions to list other species. See news coverage from High Country News, Business Week and Miller-McCune. ESA blawg has previously emphasized the need for the Department of Interior -- not litigious citizen activists -- to control its own priorities. See discussions of "unintended consequences" (2008) and "bulk petitions" (2010). But the Center for Biological Diversity, firmly opposed to listing delays, refused to sign the agreement. See AP article
Still, there will never be an ESA litigation shortage. In the Pacific, NOAA recently authorized the lethal take of sea lions (protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act) in an effort to save listed salmonid species. See NOAA Fisheries. And in the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA continues to learn about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on wildlife (seeScience Daily and Houston Business Journal). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has its share of issues too; and individual issues all over the nation involving the Endangered Species Act are generating pushback. See Wyoming's Daily Journal (discussing the gray wolf) Martha's Vineyard News (discussing the listed Imperial Moth), and Business Week (discussing New Mexico's dunes sagebrush lizard and its effects on energy development -- a particularly tough issue that could lead to the next time Congress repeals a species listing by budgetary rider.) In an issue of mutual concern to both FWS and NOAA, Indiana's Hoosier Ag Today discussed the opposition to duplicative pesticide regulation.
With mixed messages abundant, as usual, is it any wonder thatVermont Public Radio asks whether the ESA has worked? Conservation biologist Joe Roman, in his book Listed (cover photo below), would answer with a resounding YES, and makes a compelling case about the economic and ecosystem benefits of the Endangered Species Act. Still, despite his book, and despite similarly inspiring New York Times articles about endangered species from coast to coast, the naysayers will always remain. After all, as Mother Jones recently wrote, homo sapien may be hard wired to reject science when it opposes our values and viewpoints. Indeed, even opportunities for success, like reintroductions, prove controversial. See Alaska NBC2 (discussing potential for reintroduction of wood bison) andSalt Lake Tribune (discussing the black footed ferret).