WASHINGTON— Despite an overall increase of $86.4 million for endangered species conservation, President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget request, released today, still falls short of what’s needed to stem the loss of our nation’s biodiversity and halt the global extinction crisis.
The Biden administration is proposing just $23.9 million — a mere $2.7 million above last year’s levels — to protect the more than 400 imperiled animals and plants still waiting for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The data shows that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs at least $78.7 million, more than three times the proposed amount, to process the backlog of species waiting for protections.
A 2016 study found that species waited a median of 12 years to receive safeguards, in part due to funding shortfalls. At least 47 species have gone extinct waiting for protection.
“The Biden administration’s lack of urgency about saving the hundreds of imperiled species on the brink of extinction is distressing,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center. “We’re losing rare animals and plants faster than ever before. Without significantly more funding for the Service’s listing program, species like the golden-winged warbler and dunes sagebrush lizard will keep declining until the only place they can be found is in children’s books.”
The budget proposal increases funding for endangered species recovery by $20 million. While this represents a modest increase from last year’s budget, the Endangered Species Act has been severely underfunded for decades, resulting in already-protected species receiving few dollars for their recovery. According to the Service’s own data, hundreds of endangered animals and plants receive less than $1,000 for their recovery in a typical year, with several hundred receiving no funding at all from the agency.
Based on the Service’s own recovery plans, at least $2 billion per year is needed to recover the more than 1,700 endangered species across the country. The proposed budget fails to even come close to closing the gap in needed funding.
In January more than 75 conservation groups asked the administration for significantly more funding for endangered species. This request echoed similar pleas from more than 100 members of the House of Representatives and 24 senators.
“Fighting the extinction crisis can’t be an afterthought anymore. For the sake of our planet and preserving our natural heritage, the Biden administration must do better,” said Kurose.
In 2021 the Service announced it would remove 22 animals and one plant from the endangered species list because those species had gone extinct. They will now join the list of 650 species in the United States that have likely been lost to extinction. Globally, an additional 1 million animal and plant species face extinction within the coming decades.