Swapping Politics for Science

courtesy of The High Country News
by Heather Hansen

It’s not often a government agency asks Congress to limit the amount of money it spends to do its job. But that’s what the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) did last month when it told Congress that it wants a cap put on how much it can shell out to process endangered species petitions.

The agency is evidently overwhelmed by the recent, unprecedented number of petitions for species’ listing—more than 1,230 in the past four years, compared to roughly 20 per year in the dozen years prior. As a result of the massive backlog, it is repeatedly missing critical deadlines, which allows the FWS to be sued for legal fees. A cap on spending, or a limit on the number of petitions it is allowed to consider annually would, presumably, give the Service a leg to stand on in court.

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