The Endangered Species Act, passed almost unanimously by Congress and signed into law by a Republican president in 1973, is the most successful and popular environmental law in American history. It has protected the bald eagle, grizzly bear, humpback whale and gray wolf, as well as more than 1,650 other threatened and endangered species. The law has strong, bipartisan support among the American people.
The American people support this law because we are allies of life. To say the words “bald eagle” is one thing. To see a snow-headed bird lift its black wings off a fog-shrouded pine in Maine is quite another. Yet, this bird came very close to death—and not just one bald eagle, but all bald eagles. In 1963, eagles were down to 417 pairs in the contiguous US. The Endangered Species Act provided the protection and support the bird needed to recover. And recover it did, so much so that the bald eagle was delisted in 2007.
Since 1973, the natural systems that make life possible for all species, including our own, have been decimated. A recent UN report, drawn from about 15,000 scientific and government sources, finds that one million animal and plant species are in danger of disappearing into the dark of extinction, largely because of climate change and our reckless use of land and resources.
Our own survival is tied to the fates of these one million species and their shrinking habitats. We need pollinators for our farms to function, thriving fisheries to provide food and jobs, and healthy forests to take carbon out of the atmosphere, filter drinking water and provide oxygen to breathe. Our air, water and food depend on a healthy biosphere. But we continue to clear-cut trees, catch too many fish, spray too many chemicals and extract and burn too many nonrenewable fuels. We diminish the roaming areas for wolves and grizzlies, warm the seas to temperatures hostile to humpback whales and destroy habitat for songbirds. We put at risk the beauty and diversity of the world and endanger our own lives.
Yet, we are the same people who created the Endangered Species Act and rescued so many species from the edge of extinction. To continue this life-affirming work is what lies ahead of us. Our opponents are the few who plunder the world for short-term gain and seek fortunes at the expense of the rest of us, the wild world and all future generations. These few have found friends in this administration, an administration that refuses to listen to scientists and rarely acts in good faith.
The damage in just three years is breathtaking: decimation of protection for public lands and waters, repeal of the Clean Power Plan, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and withdrawal from the global climate accord. And now this administration is intent on gutting the Endangered Species Act—a law that passed the House 390–12 and the Senate 92–0. In August, the federal agencies charged with administering the Endangered Species Act adopted unprecedented amendments to the Act’s implementing regulations that undercut the purpose and effectiveness of the Act. The administration’s purpose is to weaken habitat protection and undercut climate science—all to enable reckless development and short-term profits that will further put birds, wolves, whales, bears and other wild and essential species at risk of extinction.
Enough is enough. Today, Patagonia, a company built by and for people who explore and protect wild places, notified these agencies that we will file a lawsuit challenging the regulatory changes in court. You can see our notice letter here.
Patagonia has long advocated for conservation, including protecting endangered and threatened species and preserving critical habitat. We support efforts ranging from removal of dams that impede Endangered Species Act-listed salmon and steelhead to protecting Yellowstone grizzlies from premature delisting.
Patagonia will file a lawsuit to protect the Endangered Species Act because we agree with the American people in their support of the Act, and we cannot afford to lose a nearly 50-year-old environmental protections passed down from previous generations. Rather, we must build on the kind of progress made in February, when a strong majority in Congress passed the most significant public lands and waters legislation in a decade—expanding wilderness and parks, protecting rivers and establishing four new national monuments.
The extinction crisis is only political if you think the facts are debatable. Today, Patagonia is taking action—because the world we depend on now depends on it. Join us by supporting the following groups, who have filed their own lawsuits against the administration to protect the most successful environmental law in American history: Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Natural Resource Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, WildEarth Guardians, The Humane Society of the United States, and their lawyers at Earthjustice.