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Study: Feds Downplaying Climate Change Threat To Endangered Species

The California condor is one of the Golden State's best known endangered species. (USWFS)
The California condor is one of the Golden State's best known endangered species. (USWFS)
November 19, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Federal agencies are downplaying the effects of climate change on endangered species, according to a report out today. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked at 459 animals and found that although climate change affects all but one of the species, it was only cited in 64% of planning documents - and the agencies required action in just 18% of cases.

Study author Aimee Delach, senior policy analyst for climate adaptation with Defenders of Wildlife, said 82 California species were included in the study.

"Of those, 61 at least discussed climate change threats - 21 did not,” Delach said. “Fourteen had actions and seven had additional study."

Some of the Golden State species studied include the California condor and the California tiger salamander. The Trump administration has worked to lift environmental regulations it claims are unnecessarily impeding commercial ventures such as logging, ranching, residential development and oil and gas drilling.

Delach said new federal regulations issued in 2018 will make it easier for agencies to ignore climate change in endangered-species listing and recovery plans.

"Our data show that even prior to those new regulations, the agencies weren't doing enough,"she said. "And so those new regulations make matters very, very concerning.”

The study includes a web tool that makes the indings searchable by species and state. It shows that in California, climate change affects species by isolating certain populations, changing the availability of water, and introducing new disturbances into the environment.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA