For Immediate Release, August 28, 2007

Contact: Kieran Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Environmentalists Challenge Political Interference
With 55 Endangered Species in 28 States, Seek to Restore
8.7 Million Acres of Protected Habitat Across the Country

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Department of the Interior for political interference with 55 endangered species in 28 states. The notice initiates the largest substantive legal action in the 34-year history of the Endangered Species Act.

At stake in the suit is the illegal removal of one animal from the endangered species list, the refusal to place three animals on the list, proposals to remove or downgrade protection for seven animals, and the stripping of protection from 8.7 million acres of critical habitat for a long list of species from Washington State to Minnesota and Texas (see below for species and states affected).

“This is the biggest legal challenge against political interference in the history of the Endangered Species Act,” said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It puts the Bush administration on trial at every level for systematically squelching government scientists and installing a cadre of political hatchet men in positions of power.”

Many of the illegal decisions were engineered by former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Julie MacDonald, who resigned in disgrace following a scathing investigation by the inspector general of misconduct at the Department of the Interior. Other decisions were ordered by her boss, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson, his special assistant Randal Bowman, and Ruth Solomon in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Some decisions were ordered by lower-level bureaucrats.

“The Bush administration has tried to keep a lid on its growing endangered species scandal by scapegoating Julie MacDonald,” said Suckling, “but the corruption goes much deeper than one disgraced bureaucrat. It reaches into the White House itself through the Office of Management and Budget. By attacking the problem systematically through this national lawsuit, we will expose just how thoroughly the distain for science and for wildlife pervades the Bush administration’s endangered species program.”

In many of the cases, government and university scientists carefully documented the editing of scientific documents, overruling of scientific experts, and falsification of economic analyses.

Among the 55 species in the legal filing are the marbled murrelet (CA, OR, WA), Florida manatee (SC to TX), Arctic grayling (MT), West Virginia northern flying squirrel (WV), California least tern (CA), brown pelican (LA, TX, PR, VI), California red-legged frog (CA), arroyo toad (CA), Mexican garter snake (AZ), piping plover (NC to TX), snowy plover (CA, OR, WA) and Preble's jumping meadow mouse (CO, WY).

Number of species per state: California (24), Texas (16), New Mexico (9), Arizona (5), Louisiana (3), Colorado (2), Oregon (2), Washington (2), Kansas (2), Georgia (2), Florida (2), Alabama (2), Mississippi (2), Puerto Rico (2), American Virgin Islands (2), Montana (1), Iowa (1), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), South Dakota (1), Missouri (1), South Carolina (1), Nevada (1), Utah (1), Wyoming (1), West Virginia (1), Guam (1), Rota (1).

Species per state and issue:

Species

Range

Issue

Braken Bat Cave meshweaver

TX

critical habitat

Cokendolpher cave harvestman

TX

critical habitat

Comal Springs dryopid beetle

TX

critical habitat

Comal Springs riffle beetle

TX

critical habitat

Peck's Cave amphipod

TX

critical habitat

Government Canyon Bat Cave meshweaver

TX

critical habitat

Government Canyon Bat Cave spider

TX

critical habitat

Helotes mold beetle

TX

critical habitat

Madla Cave meshweaver

TX

critical habitat

Rhadine exilis ground beetle

TX

critical habitat

Rhadine infernalis ground beetle

TX

critical habitat

Robber Baron Cave meshweaver

TX

critical habitat

San Jacinto crownscale

CA

critical habitat

Lane Mountain milk-vetch

CA

critical habitat

Coachella Valley milk-vetch

CA

critical habitat

Spreading navarretia

CA

critical habitat

Willowy monardella

CA

critical habitat

Thread-leaved brodiaea

CA

critical habitat

Munz's onion

CA

critical habitat

Robust spineflower (two varieties)

CA

critical habitat

Monterey spineflower

CA

critical habitat

Santa Cruz tarplant

CA

critical habitat

Alameda whipsnake

CA

critical habitat

Arroyo southwestern toad

CA

critical habitat

Buena Vista Lake shrew

CA

critical habitat

California red-legged frog

CA

critical habitat

California tiger salamander (Central)

CA

critical habitat

California tiger salamander ( Sonoma)

CA

critical habitat

Riverside fairy shrimp

CA

critical habitat

Santa Ana sucker (re-designation)

CA

critical habitat

Quino checkerspot butterfly

CA

critical habitat

Pecos assiminea snail

NM

critical habitat

Koster's tryonia snail

NM

critical habitat

Noel's amphipod

NM

critical habitat

Roswell springsnail

NM

critical habitat

Gila chub

AZ, NM

critical habitat

Loach minnow

AZ, NM

critical habitat

Spikedace

AZ, NM

critical habitat

Arkansas River shiner

NM, TX, OK, KS

critical habitat

Southwestern willow flycatcher (redesignation)

CA, NV, UT, CO, AZ, NM

critical habitat

Western snowy plover (re-designation)

CA, OR, WA

critical habitat

Preble's meadow jumping mouse

CO, WY

critical habitat

Piping plover (winter range)

NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, TX

critical habitat

Topeka shiner

IA, KS, MN, NE, SD, MO

critical habitat

Sacramento splittail

CA

Delisting

Mexican garter snake

AZ

Refusal to list

Tabernaemontana Rotensis

GU, RO

Refusal to list

Arctic fluvial grayling

MT

Refusal to list

West Virginia northern flying squirrel

WV

Delisting proposal

California least tern

CA

Downlisting proposal

Eastern pelican

LA, TX

Delisting proposal

Caribbean brown pelican

PR, AVI

Delisting proposal

Florida manatee

NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, TX

Downlisting proposal

Antillean manatee

PR, AVI

Downlisting proposal

Marbled murrelet

CA, OR, WA

Delisting proposal

 


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