The Endangered Species Act Under Threat
A Bush Administration interpretation of “range” that restricts protections for imperiled species to their current range, precluding protections for historic range could weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Analysis: 2007 legal opinion is a threat to imperiled species – ScienceBlog
researchers say such an interpretation sets the stage for the creation of sporadically located “wilderness zoos” that would reduce protections for endangered species and the habitat on which they depend.
It is pretty universally understood that the Bush Administration was no proponent of the ESA and actively pushed radically minimalist interpretations of the Act administratively and in the courts. If you think about it, an interpretation of the Endangered Species Act that only protects species where they currently reside would actually incentivize the removal of species from areas before they get listed, or at least could pull a lot of the wind out of efforts to conserve a species in an area before a listing potentially takes place.
As the article notes, what’s particularly troubling is that the Obama Administration has done nothing to reverse Bush’s legal memorandum. Obama’s Interior actually picked up where Bush left off, using the interpretation in its decision to delist wolves.
“The law says listing decisions should be determined by scientists,” Bruskotter said. “Implementing the 2007 legal interpretation, on the other hand, would further limit the number of species listed and the area in which they qualify for protections, ultimately diminishing the government’s ability to conserve threatened and endangered species.”