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Resources: House Members Seek 'New Paradigm' To Address Climate Change, Economic Downturn

Publication Date: 
March 04, 2009
Environment and Energy Daily
Allison Winter

Professor Barton H. "Buzz" Thompson is quoted in Environment and Energy Daily in an article about how the government can address natural resource management given the current economic downturn:

At a hearing on the issue before a panel of the House Resources Committee yesterday, experts from environmental groups said natural resources are facing a double threat. Climate change and development pose new risks, as some of the conservation coffers dwindle.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) said changes in federal management may be necessary to respond to "new challenges," including spending freezes and budget cuts in many states and declines in charitable giving for conservation groups.


"This may require a shift in character of the agencies responsible," said Barton Thompson, director of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

Thompson recommended that agencies proactively incorporate climate issues in management plans and look for ways to reduce spending. He also suggested the government prioritize resources, which could mean making the hard choice to dismiss some species. He recommended that Congress provide guidance to federal agencies on how to deal with species that cannot be effectively protected.


"Scientific discussions have begun to suggest that triage might be needed in protecting oceans and wildlife in an age of climate change," said Thompson.

But most conservation laws, including the Endangered Species Act, require agencies to work to conserve jeopardized species regardless. Those laws do not give wiggle room for agencies to consider what is feasible, Thompson said, adding that federal resource managers "have little experience with explicit tradeoffs."