There are more than a thousand endangered plants and animals in the U.S., but there are an infinite number of roads and dams that can be built. Guess which interest wins out?
According to a new report, it’s the builders by a landslide. Out of a whopping total of 88,000 cases, exactly zero actions and developments that could harm endangered species in the U.S. were halted by the U.S. government in the past seven years.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the branch meant to protect threatened species from development that would harm them, issued a judgement on only two development projects. In other words, in only two cases did the government say, “hmmm, maybe we should rethink building in the home of an endangered species” in more than half a decade.
As the Guardian points out, this wasn’t always the case. Back in 1991, there were a total of 350 “jeopardy judgements” out of 73,560 consultations—meaning that the government stepped in to lessen the harmful impact of development projects over 100 times more often.
Meanwhile, politicians have taken aim at the Fish and Wildlife Service over the past year, alleging that its powers to protect endangered species are too far reaching—a bizarre claim, given the data. Since the start of 2015, over 80 legislative proposals have been made, mainly by Republicans in Congress, to dramatically slash protections for wildlife under the Endangered Species Act, an act overseen by the Fish and Wildlife Service—clearly an unnecessary step, given the agency’s almost non-existent impact on American wildlife.