Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 22, 2022


Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395,

Senate Democrats Pass Extinction Omnibus, Endangering Right Whale

WASHINGTON— The Democratic-controlled Senate passed its massive omnibus funding package today that includes an unprecedented right whale extinction rider. The measure will allow the U.S. lobster fishery to delay for six years essential conservation actions to prevent fishing gear from entangling and killing critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. The rider was inserted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

With a declining population of 340 individuals and only 70 breeding females, the North Atlantic right whale will almost certainly be put on an irreversible extinction trajectory by today’s passage. NOAA Fisheries has admitted that U.S. fisheries will continue to entangle more than 15% of the right whale population each year.

“Extinction is a political choice, and Schumer just made it clear that he’s willing to pander to special interests over protecting these mighty giants,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Right whales inspire awe, wonder, respect and appreciation. The needless suffering they will endure is heartbreaking.”

While the final omnibus package excludes Sen. Manchin’s “permitting reform,” which would have built out climate-killing fossil fuel infrastructure and rolled back environmental protections, the FY2023 omnibus maintains status quo funding levels for the nation’s most imperiled animals and plants.

While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received a modest funding increase compared to last year, it’s a cut in real dollars after accounting for inflation. These amounts remain well short of what’s needed to address the extinction crisis.

For example, funding to protect more than 400 species still waiting for protection under the Endangered Species Act increased by just $2.1 million. The Service needs substantially more funding to address the backlog and have a functioning program to provide timely protection to species in need.

Similarly, funding for the recovery of the nation’s 1,800 endangered species increased by just $5.7 million, or $3,160 per species. Based on the Service’s own recovery plans, at least $2 billion per year is needed to recover endangered species across the country.

The omnibus also retains a rider to prevent the listing of the sage grouse for another year, even as the bird continues to slide towards extinction.

“This budget confirms that some members of the Democratic establishment are false allies in the fight to halt the global extinction crisis and save life on earth,” Kurose said.

North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Credit: NOAA. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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