Failing the Fight: The Historical Context of U.S Environmental Conservation and How Endangered Species are Mismanaged in the Current Legislature
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The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 established a baseline for the ethical treatment of threatened or endangered species and acted, in a pivotal time for environmental legislature, as the first large-scale species protective measure. Drafted on the heels of two other national environmental standards, the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972, the ESA is composed of 18 sections dedicated to the documentation, monitoring, and protection of threatened or endangered species. However, due to the broad nomenclature found in Section 9, the strict implications for the public, the lack of expenditure documentations, the general lack of species successes, the immense backlog of unaddressed species and inadequate filing method, the ESA now provides little relief to the plants and animals it protects. Simply because the ESA is a foundational achievement of modern environmental legislature does not make it beneficial today – it also does nothing to acknowledge the displacement of species due to climate change. There is an environmental movement occurring which champions proposed amendments and alterations to the Act. This is quite possibly the only way to utilize the legislature without an altogether repeal. These actions must be taken quickly, as in recent years the ESA has become a target for American politicians looking to decrease government expenditures. Under the amendments proposed by the Obama administration, and further actions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, the ESA has the potential to save countless species on the brink of extinction.