The United States has equipped itself with a powerful and legal weapon to fight against the disappearance of certain species. The Endangered Species Act, or ' ESA', was passed in Congress in 1973 under the Nixon administration. It concerns animals and plants. This law offers, among other things, the possibility for citizens and associations to take legal action against the government in cases where the protection of identified species and their habitats is not properly ensured. The objective is not only to protect them but also to increase their number to finally remove them from the list of species at risk. The two departments within government responsible for its enforcement are: the US Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior (FWS), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) , the Department of Commerce.
Such a law is unprecedented in the world. No other country has such a strong legal leverage to protect biodiversity. And it is clear that it works. We notice that the number of endangered animals stops decreasing. Their habitats are reconstituting and conditions are once again favorable for their development. For some species, the recovery goes beyond the forecasts established by the researchers. American scientists have estimated at 227 the number of species that have been saved from extinction in the past 40 years. In a detailed report, they published data to strengthen the effectiveness and success of the law:
- From 1973 to 2013, the law protected 99% of species from extinction.
- The law revealed a 90% effectiveness rate across the United States.
- The law allowed for the protection of 233 million acres of habitat. These territories identified as essential to the survival and development of endangered species are now rendered unusable.
- The law is enjoying increasing popularity among the people of the United States. A national poll has shown that two in three Americans support the law. They also expressed the wish that it be strengthened .
Unfortunately, not everything is rosy and many attacks have been against the law. Federal agencies have regularly ignored its provisions and ignored injunctions prohibiting them from endangering the existence of endangered species and their habitat. Lastly, the actions taken by the Trump administration. The former president has weakened the law considerably. Here are some examples:
- Threatened wildlife will no longer receive any level of protection,
- The funding allocated to the protection of endangered species will now be subject to appraisal,
- The promoters will be authorized to drill, dig and raze in habitats considered sensitive.
- The urgent aid needed by wildlife will have to suffer from delays that put their lives in danger.
Very recently, the various associations, research centers and universities which are fighting to make the United States respect the “Endangered Species Act” have had cause for celebration. Indeed, they received weighty support in the person of Joe Biden. The new president of the United States immediately decided to legislate in favor of the “ESA”. According to him, these unacceptable and dangerous setbacks were decided by the Trump administration without any scientific basis.
To deny climate change and encourage polluting activities in defiance of the hundreds of endangered species is simply to accelerate their disappearance, to destroy the fragile balance of nature and, at the end of the chain, to endanger the human race. This is essentially what Bonnie Rice, in charge of the Endangered Species campaign with the Sierra Club, said: " Fully enforcing the Endangered Species Act and restoring protections for at-risk species will ensure the natural systems that we all depend upon are balanced and protected, which has immense benefits for local economies, the environment, and our ability to save nature. ”
All hopes therefore now rest on President Joe Biden. Let us hope that its mandate reconciles the provisions of the law with environmental priorities. As evidenced by this testimony from a law student, which reflects the opinion of a large majority of Americans: ”I'm counting on President Biden to use every tool to make sure our coral reefs, our songbirds, and all the other glorious creatures living on Earth are still around for the next generation. ”