House Proposal Could Wipe Out Sage-Grouse Across Much of the West
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2015
House Proposal Could Wipe Out Sage-Grouse Across Much of the West
Eleven National Organizations Oppose Provision in Defense Bill
WASHINGTON— Today the House Armed Services Committee introduced a provision in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes unprecedented language from Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) that would undermine the outcome of ongoing state and federal collaboration and prevent greater sage-grouse from receiving Endangered Species Act and other protections for a decade or more—regardless of the bird's prognosis for survival. The measure would also essentially turn over management of western federal lands that are home to the species to the states.
The following is a statement by Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, The Wilderness Society, American Rivers, Clean Water Action and Friends of the Earth:
“This is one of the most egregious examples of the kinds of unjustified political attacks on the Endangered Species Act that we have seen from this Congress. Attaching this language to a defense bill shows the lengths to which some will go to pander to special interests by trampling on the bedrock environmental laws that protect our air, lands, water and wildlife.
“Greater sage-grouse may already be threatened with extinction, as has been determined by the Fish and Wildlife Service. This amendment could cause populations to disappear across much of the West and further jeopardize the existence of the species. By placing the sage-grouse beyond the reach of the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act, Congress is removing safeguards that may be necessary to save the species.
“We hope to see current federal, state and local planning efforts prevent the bird’s continued decline, and those plans are not yet complete. That collaborative process should be allowed to play out. If the state and local plans can’t get the job done, the Endangered Species Act will be essential to help save this icon of the American West, as it has so many of our nation's other cherished wildlife. Rep. Bishop’s short-sighted measure would prevent that, hastening the demise of the bird and our western lands.
“The bill language would also take the unprecedented step of transferring oversight of as much as 60 million acres of federal lands that are home to sage-grouse to the states. This is right in line with several other attempts this Congress has made to simply give national public lands to the states, where they can be sold to the highest bidder or sacrificed to dirty fuel development. It’s the ultimate power grab.”
Populations of greater sage-grouse have plummeted by as much as 90 percent from historic numbers. A new study just released reported that sage-grouse populations have further declined by at least 55 percent between 2007-2013. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering whether to list the grouse under the Endangered Species Act. Though an unprecedented cooperative planning process to implement new measures to conserve sage-grouse and its habitat is underway across the West, the Endangered Species Act remains a necessary safety net. Delaying a listing, independent of the science or the status of joint conservation efforts – and putting states in charge of managing sage-grouse on federal lands – would be detrimental to sage-grouse and public lands.
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 and follow us on Twitter @defendersnews.
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
League of Conservation Voters works to turn environmental values into national, state and local priorities. LCV, in collaboration with our state LCV partners, advocates for sound environmental laws and policies, holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions, and elects pro-environment candidates who will champion our priority issues.
Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.
National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.
Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.
The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 700,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org
American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org.
Clean Water Action’s programs focus on clean water, prevention of health-threatening pollution, and creation of environmentally-safe jobs and businesses. Clean Water Action’s nonpartisan campaigns empower people to make democracy work.
Friends of the Earth fights to create a more healthy and just world. Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, ensuring the food we eat and products we use are safe and sustainable, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.