The use and effects of science in implementation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 are examined, with emphasis on the best available science mandate under the Act. The current ability of the mandate to provide political credibility has been undermined by high profile disputes in which the scientific data supporting decisions has been demonstrated to be thin. Recent proposals to amend the Act and impose additional scientific hurdles to regulation would do little to improve the substantive reliability of agency decisions. Steps that would not require legislative modification and could improve both the substance and political credibility of implementing decisions are recommended.

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