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White House Watch
The Endangered List

The Endangered Species Act is no stranger to controversy. Still, since Congress passed the act in 1973, species designations have been almost as common as presidential proclamations. At least until George W. Bush took office. Under the current White House, they have plummeted, and fewer than 10 species a year are being listed, a rate lower than that for any previous administration. By contrast, President Bush’s father made more than five times as many designations, almost 58 per year. In the mid-1980s, under another Republican President, Ronald Reagan, the wood stork and the piping plover joined the list. Before Reagan, the Carter administration made almost 29 listings a year and provided crucial protection for such sensitive species as green and loggerhead sea turtles. The listing rate peaked under Bill Clinton, to almost 65 species a year, including the Canada lynx and hundreds of plants. “The Bush administration has been a true laggard on the listing of endangered species,” says John Kostyack, the National Wildlife Federation’s director of wildlife conservation campaigns. “These days the key decisions are being made by people who were recent lobbyists for regulated industries and who are hostile to the act.”—Bob Grant

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