Group sues to protect 681 endangered species

In a move that got surprisingly little press, the conservation group WildEarth Guardians on Wednesday filed a lawsuit seeking the immediate protection of 681 U.S. species under the Endangered Species Act.

The list of species includes plants, snails, butterflies and numerous other Western species. (I wish I could provide a more detailed accounting, but even WildEarth's own website doesn't have any news about the suit posted yet.)

The only real mention of this lawsuit so far come from Sunday's Washington Post, as part of a must-read investigative report on the obstacles the Bush Administration has placed upon protecting species under the ESA. The Post received internal documents from the Interior Department which showed "that personnel were barred from using information in agency files that might support new listings, and that senior officials repeatedly dismissed the views of scientific advisers as President Bush's appointees either rejected putting imperiled plants and animals on the list or sought to remove this federal protection."

During his seven years in office, President Bush's administration has approved just 59 domestic species for ESA protection. In contrast, Presidents Clinton and Bush the First averaged 62 species per year during their combined 12 years in office.

UPDATE: WildEarth's press release is now available here.