Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Art of the Possible

Even though Reagan proved deficits don't matter, the Obama administration has proposed budget cuts that will affect Endangered Species Act protections:

The Obama administration has proposed to cut funding for listing of endangered species by 5 percent. Currently, there are 249 species that are designated as candidates for listing as endangered species. Candidate species, including the New England cottontail, yellow-billed loon, Yosemite toad, and many others, are species that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined do need protection, but for which they claim they lack the resources to actually provide that protection. Many animals and plants have been waiting decades for protection, and most are gravely endangered. To date, the administration has only protected two species under the Endangered Species Act. By comparison, the Clinton administration protected an average of 65 species per year....

The proposed budget also cuts funding for candidate conservation, which is supposed to provide protection to candidate species in the absence of listing, by almost 9 percent; cuts funding for endangered species law enforcement by almost 4 percent; and is nearly flat for recovery.
Oddly enough, the administration has also declined to raise the federal fee applied to livestock that are grazed on public lands:
On Friday the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management announced that in 2010 it would not increase the paltry $1.35 monthly fee charged for each cow and calf that the livestock industry grazes on western public land. The fee remains far below what the agencies spend to administer grazing permits, it remains far below market rates, and it remains far short of providing revenue needed to correct the severe ecological damage caused by livestock grazing.

Habitat destruction caused by livestock is a primary factor contributing to the decline of threatened and endangered species including the desert tortoise, Mexican spotted owl, southwestern willow flycatcher, least Bell’s vireo, Mexican gray wolf, Oregon spotted frog, Chiricahua leopard frog, in addition to dozens of other species of imperiled mammals, fish, amphibians, and spring snails that occur on western public land. Livestock grazing is also a primary factor contributing to unnaturally severe western wildfires, watershed degradation, soil loss, and the spread of invasive plants.
Could a higher grazing fee prevent cuts to ESA protections that are necessary in part because of the livestock industry?

Who knows? Who cares?

In other news, Phoenix, AZ will make up its budget shortfalls by taxing staple foods:
Phoenix's mayor argues that while people need to eat, they also need basic services like police and firemen, and without closing gaps in the city's budget with a food tax, they wont be available.
(Photo: "A trough stands out on a landscape made barren by grazing. - Awapa Plateau, Dixie National Forest." Via Utah Environmental Congress.)


chris said...

I thought the picture was of a bathtub, government, for the drowning of.
Speaking of drowning, it's curious that no one dare suggest such treatment for the military-industrial complex.

Phila said...

There's some talk lately -- even on the right -- of cutting the Pentagon's budget a bit. I don't really expect it to go anywhere, especially given the rise in classified spending, but I'd love to be proven wrong.