Biden’s budget jeopardizes key programs to protect and recover endangered species

WASHINGTON—Despite an overall increase of $86.4 million for endangered species conservation, President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget request, released today, still falls short of what is needed to stem the loss of our country’s biodiversity and ending the global extinction crisis.

The Biden administration is offering just $23.9 million — just $2.7 million above last year’s levels — to protect the more than 400 endangered animals and plants still waiting to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The data shows that the US Fish and Wildlife Service needs at least $78.7 million, more than three times the proposed amount, to deal with the backlog of species awaiting protection.

A 2016 study found that cash waited an average of 12 years to receive collateral, in part due to a lack of funding. At least 47 species have disappeared waiting to be protected.

“The Biden administration’s lack of urgency to save the hundreds of endangered species on the brink of extinction is distressing,” said Stephanie Kurose, senior policy specialist at the Center. “We are losing rare animals and plants faster than ever. Without much greater funding for the Service’s listing program, species like the golden-winged warbler and dune lizard will continue to decline until the only place they can be found is in children’s books. .

The budget proposal increases funding for endangered species recovery by $17 million. While this represents a modest increase over last year’s budget, the Endangered Species Act has been severely underfunded for decades, resulting in already protected species receiving few dollars for their recovery. According to the Service’s own data, hundreds of endangered animals and plants receive less than $1,000 for their recovery in a typical year, with several hundred receiving no funding from the agency.

According to the Service’s own recovery plans, at least $2 billion a year is needed to restore more than 1,700 endangered species across the country. The proposed budget fails even to bridge the necessary funding gap.

In January, more than 75 conservation groups petitioned the administration for significantly more funding for endangered species. This request echoed similar requests from more than 100 members of the House of Representatives and 24 senators.

“Tackling the extinction crisis can no longer be an afterthought. For the good of our planet and the preservation of our natural heritage, the Biden administration must do better,” Kurose said.

In 2021, the Service announced that it would remove 22 animals and one plant from the endangered species list because those species were extinct. They will now join the list of 650 species in the United States that have likely gone extinct. Globally, a million more animal and plant species are at risk of becoming extinct over the next few decades.

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