WASHINGTON— The Trump administration released a Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal today with massive proposed funding cuts for the Department of the Interior, even as the extinction crisis worsens in the United States and around the world.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s overall budget would be slashed by $80 million compared to last year’s enacted funding levels. Within those reductions, the administration would cut the Endangered Species Act listing program — which evaluates whether imperiled animals and plants warrant protection under the Act — by $11 million. Funding under the Multinational Species Conservation Fund — which helps to save elephants, tigers, and other foreign species — would be cut by $9 million. State and Tribal wildlife grants would be slashed by more than 50%.
“The Australian wildfires showed that our wildlife face peril like never before, but this administration couldn’t care less,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s budget turns a blind eye to the extinction crisis at home and abroad. It’s ludicrous that America’s wildlife heritage gets only crumbs, while special interest polluters and corporations would receive unprecedented handouts.”
The Endangered Species Act has saved more than 99% of species under its protection from extinction and put hundreds of species on a path to recovery. That is a remarkable track record considering Congress only provides approximately 3.5% of the funding that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own scientists estimate is needed to recover species, according to a Center report on endangered species spending.
Roughly 1 in 4 species receives less than $10,000 a year toward recovery, so Trump’s cuts would be a disaster if this budget were adopted.
A 2019 United Nations report warned that 1 million plant and animal species are heading toward extinction in the coming decades. In North America only around 400 North Atlantic right whales remain, as few as 14 red wolves roam North Carolina, and about 10 vaquita porpoises survive in the Gulf of California. In the Southeast extinction looms for 28% of the region’s fishes, 48% of crayfishes and nearly 70% of freshwater mussels.
According to a new plan released by the Center, Saving Life on Earth, ending the global wildlife extinction crisis will require bold leadership from the United States, including a $100 billion investment to save species and the creation of 500 new national parks, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries.
“We need to make a massive investment to save our natural heritage from the grasp of extinction,” Hartl said. “The good news is we know what solutions and actions are needed to reverse the extinction crisis. All we need is political will to achieve it.”
The Saving Life on Earth plan says the United States must:
- Take a global leadership role by declaring an extinction crisis national emergency and investing $100 billion to stem the disappearance of the world’s wildlife and plants.
- Create 500 new national parks, national wildlife refuges and national marine sanctuaries so that 30% of U.S. lands and waters are conserved by 2030 and 50% by 2050.
- Restore the full power of the Endangered Species Act and invest $20 billion to save the 1,800 endangered species in the United States.
- Crack down on all forms of air and water pollution and move the world away from rampant plastic production and pollution.
- Stem the spread of invasive species by investing in new technologies and establishing new rules to detect invasive species in global trade.