CONGRESSIONAL ATTACKS ON ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT REACH FEVERED PITCH
WASHINGTON (July 19, 2017) – Environmental committees in both the House and the Senate are taking aim at American’s most effective law for protecting wildlife in danger of extinction: the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is holding a legislative hearing on five bills that would harm threatened and endangered species and significantly erode the Act. Simultaneously, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing on the so-called “H.E.L.P for Wildlife” Act, which would end Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region and bar any judicial review of wolf delisting in the Great Lakes and Wyoming.
“The leadership in the House and Senate are showing their true colors today,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “While nine out of ten Americans want to protect endangered species and their habitat, congressional leaders are spending their time dismantling the ESA in favor of special interests.These bills do nothing to advance conservation. Enactment of any of these bills will only hasten the disappearance of endangered and threatened species from our planet. This is all a fast beginning to the end of the Endangered Species Act.”
Testifying in the House Natural Resources Committee hearing is noted wildlife biologist, author and television personality Jeff Corwin. Corwin has traveled the world extensively to document threats to wildlife and their habitat, and provides an informed perspective on the need to protect endangered species.
“Bringing back endangered species from the brink of extinction and restoring their habitat is one of our nation’s greatest conservation success stories,” he said. “But I fear that if we are not strong and resolute in our commitment to protecting endangered species and the landscapes they need to survive and thrive, we will quickly lose all the momentum we’ve gained and leave a legacy of mass extinction. These five bills and numerous other measures that have been introduced this Congress demonstrate an unwillingness to do more to uphold decades of commitment and investment to conserve imperiled species.”
Ranking minority chairman Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said, “Despite years of Republican efforts to pass bills weakening the Act and cut funding for agencies that protect and recover imperiled American wildlife, 99 percent of listed species have continued to survive, and 90 percent are on schedule to meet their recovery goals. I cannot say this strongly, loudly, or frequently enough: the ESA does not need congressional meddling to work better. What it needs is congressional support.”
While the House considers five anti-ESA bills, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works will be holding a hearing on the so-called “Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation (HELP) for Wildlife” Act. This proposed legislation contains three damaging provisions that would harm wildlife and undermine the Endangered Species Act.
Included in the bill are two “riders” that would ensure gray wolves will not receive protections under the Act in Wyoming or the Great Lakes region and prohibit judicial review of both legislative wolf delistings. The bill also prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating toxic lead fishing tackle, which can poison fish, wildlife and humans.
Professor John Vucetich, noted wolf ecologist from Michigan Technological University who has devoted extensive research to gray wolves in American wilderness areas such as Yellowstone National Park, testified against the bill.
“The HELP for Wildlife Act is a Trojan horse that includes some positive provisions, but would cause significant conservation harm by undermining the Endangered Species Act and subverting the conservation of wolves," he said. "When Congress intervenes, science cannot play its proper role in deciding what species need protection.”
A coalition of 21 organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging them to oppose the HELP for Wildlife Act; 19 organizations sent a letter to the House of Representatives opposing the five bills
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.