Re: NANFA-- Bush puts hold on "dead zone" plan

Christopher Scharpf (
Fri, 02 Feb 2001 09:26:55 -0400

J.R. said:

> Also, by suspending the publication of the Fed Register, he's
>preventing listing of any species as threatened or endangered.

I wouldn't blame Bush for this one. The USFWS has a self-imposed moratorium --
begun under the Clinton Administration -- on new listings until September 2001.
USFWS says it is tied up in so many lawsuits over Critical Habitat designations
that it doesn't have the time or manpower to propose or list new species.
Conservationits argue that this is just a political move on the agency's part,
and that it has intentionally under-budgeted its endangered species programs.
(My guess is, the truth lies somewhere in the middle).

What's true, though, is that lawsuits can both help and harm endangered species
listing efforts. As one federal endangered species biologist told me, "We get
sued every time we list a fish. We get sued every time we DON'T list a fish." A
case in point is the recent flap over the threatened status listing of the
Sacramento splittail, a large California minnow. A lawsuit and court order
forced USFWS to list it in 1999. Now another lawsuit and court order is
overturning the listing, saying it was arbitraty, capricious, and based on
faulty or incomplete science. In this case it is a judge, not biologists, who is
determining whether a fish should be listed. It's kinda scary...but that's the
way our system works. (Kinda like selecting a president, huh?)

Anyhow, Back to the Bush moratorium on Fed Reg notices. Although it's not going
to delay any USFWS listings, it could prevent emergency listings and any NMFS
listings determined for marine and diadromous fishes, including Pacific salmon).

Chris Scharpf

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