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Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on the Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON – Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, issued the following statement in reaction to today’s 5-4 ruling by the United States Supreme Court on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). WWF joined other environmental groups as an amicus in the case. In a previous ruling, the court had given the ESA "first priority" over all other federal action.

"This is an ominous sign for the nation's threatened and endangered species and all those who care about their fates. The 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court today effectively overturns TVA v. Hill, its landmark decision that made the survival of endangered and threatened species one of the nation's top priorities.

"As Justice Stevens wrote in the dissent, the Supreme Court 'offered a definitive interpretation of the Endangered Species Act nearly 30 years ago,' but today 'the court turns its back on our decision...and places a great number of endangered species in jeopardy.'

"The ESA has been our nation's strongest law for protecting species on the brink of extinction. Since 1973, it has protected more than a thousand species including some of our greatest symbols such as the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon and the Pacific gray whale.

"The primary reason for the ESA's success has been that Federal agencies are required to consult with the wildlife agencies to ensure that their actions do not jeopardize the existence of imperiled species or adversely modify their critical habitat. This requirement, which previously applied to all Federal actions without exception, now takes a back seat to other legal responsibilities of Federal agencies.

"WWF has a long history working with endangered species and advocating for their protection. Today's ruling is likely to compromise that work, particularly in the Northern Great Plains, Bering Sea, the rivers and streams of the Southeast and in the Chihuahuan Desert, all of which are home to some of the most endangered species on Earth."