WASHINGTON, May 18, 2018—Nearly 1,500 scientists sent a letter to members of Congress today, Endangered Species Day, urging them to oppose legislation that would weaken the role science plays in protecting endangered species and their ecosystems. Several bills have been introduced that would undercut the Endangered Species Act, including delisting species without a scientific basis, limiting the role of science in species protection, and cutting funding to limit protections for species at risk.
The law, which was enacted in 1973 to establish a science-based process for determining species that are at risk and need special protections, has saved iconic American species like the bald eagle and the American alligator from extinction. In fact, 99 percent of species listed under the act have survived, and the law’s grounding in science is part of what makes it so successful.
“The Endangered Species Act empowers scientists and federal agencies to work hand in hand with states and local communities to conserve biodiversity,” the letter points out. “Restricting the use of science in the Endangered Species Act or making the law vulnerable to political interference…would lead to otherwise preventable species extinctions and the destruction of habitat that is essential to environmental health.”
The letter lays out principles for protecting the Endangered Species Act, highlighting the law’s mission of protecting biodiversity, the importance of defending science against political interference, and the need for scientists to collaborate with federal, state and local officials on plans to protect species.
“Congress has shown an increasing willingness to make environmental and public health laws less effective by gutting their reliance on the best available science,” said Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “The Endangered Species Act is no exception—and it’s encouraging to see the science community coming together to guard against efforts to unravel this vital and effective law.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe and sustainable future. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.