Are Penguins the Biden Administration’s Secret Weapon to Defund American Energy?

Decision to list “currently stable” Antarctic penguin appears to be a backdoor to shutting down fossil fuel and green energy development.

February 13, 2023

(Washington, DC) – The Functional Government Initiative (FGI) is seeking information on the basis for the recent decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS or Service) decision to list the emperor penguin as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The FWS announcement, made in late October 2022 just before the midterm elections, was cited as a “call to action” for those concerned about climate change. But the listing may also impede the expansion of clean energy production as well.

The Department of the Interior (DOI), of which FWS is a sub-agency has made climate change and blocking domestic energy development a key priority in keeping with the agenda of the Biden Administration. In the last two years, leadership at the Department has been criticized for illegally halting all new oil and gas leases and throwing up several roadblocks to existing energy development projects. The Department’s opposition to development has focused largely on fossil fuel-related projects but has also extended to the nation’s most promising opportunities to explore and mine critical minerals necessary for the green energy transition.

This latest decision to place the emperor penguin on the threatened species list raises several immediate concerns among those interested in energy independence from hostile foreign nations including China, Russia, Venezuela, and Iran. Once finalized, the listing may create a legal basis to halt practically any major commerce or large development project – energy or otherwise – around the world based on a projected contribution to increased carbon emissions. FWS Director Martha Williams describes the listing as a “call to action” while indicating emperor penguin populations “appear to be currently stable.” The Service cites models showing the potential for a reduction of 26 percent to 47 percent in the penguin population by 2050 – nearly 30 years into the future – while also admitting that many populations of the species will “most likely remain stable.”

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“This may seem like low-key announcement by the Fish and Wildlife Service, but it has the potential to be a death blow for any future development projects that deep-pocketed, litigation-happy, environmental special interests place in their sights. Giving the emperor penguin ESA protections because of the hypothetical, theoretical future effects of climate change, all while the population remains ‘currently stable,’ is the definition of dysfunction. If allowed to stand, FWS will have effectively eliminated any conceivable limit on the Endangered Species Act’s reach. In the midst of record inflation and a world-wide energy crisis, this is a stunning development. The public deserves to know which special interests have worked with Secretary Haaland’s leadership team to drive this monumental decision.”