WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity, along with more than 100 other conservation groups, called on Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today to issue a secretarial order to halt the extinction crisis by protecting biodiversity and restoring abundant wildlife and plant populations both in the United States and around the world.
Today’s letter, which accompanies a proposed secretarial order, notes the recent announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that it is proposing to remove 22 animals and a plant from the endangered species list because of extinction.
The letter states that “an additional one million animal and plant species here and around the world are facing extinction within the coming decades. Millions more are declining. The United States can restore its position as a global leader in conservation and prevent many of these extinctions, but it must take swift action that matches the extent and scale of the problem.”
“This is a pivotal moment for the Biden administration,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center . “We’re watching so many unique animals and plants disappear before our very eyes. Policy half-measures are no longer enough. Our leaders need to commit to doing everything they can to save life on earth.”
The proposed secretarial order outlines bold, aggressive actions the Interior Department can take immediately to end extinction, including:
- Restoring and protecting healthy ecosystems by establishing new protected areas, expanding existing protected areas and increasing connectivity between them.
- Integrating climate change into endangered species recovery by requiring the Service to update or develop recovery plans that integrate greenhouse gas emissions reductions to avoid species extinctions. This would also require consultations on federal agency actions that increase greenhouse gases to determine how those actions affect federally listed species.
- Aggressively recovering imperiled species by protecting all species that warrant it under the Endangered Species Act and protecting critical habitat for any listed species that does not have any currently designated.
- Crack down on the global wildlife trade by reviewing all live wild mammals and birds in trade to determine whether such species pose a disease risk or other threat to people or wildlife, and if so, take immediate steps to implement a ban on the trade in such species.
“Secretary Haaland cares deeply about protecting our natural heritage, so we’re hopeful that she’ll do the right thing and sign this secretarial order,” said Kurose.
In December 2020 more than 135 groups called on then president-elect Joe Biden to sign an executive order in his first weeks in office declaring the extinction crisis a national emergency. He has yet to do so.