1988 Scorecard Vote
The Endangered Species Act has been called the premiere wildlife conservation law in the world. It requires the Secretary of the Interior to list rare species that are endangered or threatened, to protect them from government actions that would jeopardize them and to prosecute private persons who harm them. The Secretary is also directed to develop species recovery plans and to coordinate their implementation. In practice, however, much of this protection exists only on paper. There is a backlog of almost 1,000 vulnerable species which could become extinct before they are listed (some 200 may already have died out). Many of the species which are listed still have no recovery plans.
Congress must periodically authorize government spending to enforce the Act. The Senate Environment Committee approved a bill to increase funding levels through fiscal 1992 and improve the Act as well. The bill outlawed the poaching of listed plants on private land and transformed recovery plans into action plans with accountability. The Secretary is required to monitor species awaiting listing in order to halt extinctions among these candidate species.
As we went to press, a few Senators were holding up a floor action on the bill. An environmental coalition led a drive for co-sponsors to demonstrate support for the bill and the endangered species program. Co-sponsorship of S. 675 by September 15, 1988 is a pro-environment action.