The federal Fish and Wildlife Service is in emergency triage mode as it struggles with an avalanche of petitions and lawsuits over the endangered species list, the chief tool for protecting plants and animals facing extinction in the United States. Over the last four years, a few environmental groups have requested that more than 1,230 species be listed, compared with the previous 12 years in which annual requests averaged only 20 species.The agency's proposed solution?: Cap what it can spend processing any given petition. Great idea!--can similar regulatory ceilings be applied to EPA greenhouse gas regulation? Perhaps conservatives could propose tailpipe-by-tailpipe investigations. . .
Some environmental groups argue that vastly expanded listings are needed as evidence mounts that the world is entering an era of mass extinctions related to destruction of habitat, climate and other changes. Such threats require a focus on entire ecosystems, they say, rather than individual species.
Fish and Wildlife Service officials say the barrage has paralyzed the listing process. Last month, the agency asked Congress to intervene and impose a limit on the number of species it must consider for protection, setting the stage for a showdown.
"The many requests for species petitions has inundated the listing program’s domestic species listing capabilities," the service wrote in its 2012 budget request. Already it faces a backlog of 254 species.
(via Volokh Conspiracy)