Defense Spending Bill is Burdened Once Again with Unrelated Anti-Wildlife Riders
WASHINGTON (April 28, 2016) – Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee included several destructive riders for wildlife in the markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), annual legislation that authorizes military funding. The NDAA legislation has nothing to do with wildlife management. One rider included in the underlying bill overturns a public planning process to conserve greater sage-grouse and blocks their protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for at least a decade. Another rider passed as an amendment during the committee markup yesterday blocks ESA protections for the imperiled lesser prairie-chicken and the critically endangered American burying beetle. Still another transfers control of more than half of Desert National Wildlife Refuge to the Air Force, which the military has not requested and is to the detriment of bighorn sheep and other desert wildlife.
Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark issued this statement:
“The Department of Defense does not want these anti-wildlife riders and our men and women in uniform will not benefit from them. This is yet another assault on America’s wildlife and conservation legacy by extractive industries and other extreme special interests. Last year, these controversial riders were sticking points that held up negotiations on the NDAA and these same interests are at it again. These opportunistic policy riders are a wasteful and disgraceful use of the legislative process that will further endanger imperiled species and, in the case of the sage-grouse, squander nearly $50 million spent on a broad scale federal conservation effort. Attacks on America’s wildlife are un-American and do not belong in a defense authorization bill.
“Sage-grouse are an emblem of the American West and signal the health of the Sagebrush Sea, home to elk, mule deer, golden eagles, native trout, butterflies and endemic wildflowers. The Obama Administration has developed new land use plans for America’s public lands to help the sage-grouse and more than 350 other species of conservation concern. An attack on sage-grouse is an attack on many wildlife species, recreation, sustainable land use and the many other benefits we all enjoy from public lands.
“And here we go again on Desert National Wildlife Refuge. Another rider added last night undermines management of our largest national wildlife refuge in the lower 48 by transferring primary jurisdiction of more than 800,000 acres to the Air Force, a responsibility the Department of Defense has neither requested nor is necessary for continued training exercises on and adjacent to the refuge.
“Defenders of Wildlife thanks Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA 3rd and Tim Walz (D-MN 1st) for working to remove the sage-grouse rider from the bill. We also greatly appreciate Representative Jackie Speier’s (D-CA 14th) leadership in opposing the lesser prairie chicken and American burying beetle rider.”
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 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 www.defenders.org. For the latest news from Defenders, follow us at@DefendersNews.