The week of July 28, the House is poised to take up a highly partisan bill that would undermine the recovery of imperiled wildlife under the guise of “reforming” the Endangered Species Act (ESA). As with past so-called “reform” efforts, the real goal of the bill is to dramatically weaken the ESA, with oil and gas, timber and mining companies and developers standing to benefit the most.
The bill stems from a sham investigative “report” issued by Representative Doc Hastings and his self-appointed, partisan “ESA Working Group” earlier this year, which contained a broad set of proposals that would severely curtail the ESA’s ability to protect the nation’s most imperiled species despite their claim that they were trying to make the act more efficient in saving more species.
This current bill – HR4315 - is a consolidation of four damaging ESA bills that passed the Natural Resource Committee in April. Conservatives in the House will cynically make references to “balanced reform” and “transparency,” but in reality the bill is an industry wish list that will do nothing to speed recovery of imperiled wildlife. Indeed, the bill contains many extremely harmful provisions:
- This bill will undermine the quality of the science used in listing decisions.
- This bill will create huge new hurdles to species recovery.
- This bill will generate more red tape.
- This bill will dramatically reduce the ability of the public to go to court to hold agencies accountable for complying with the law.
Without the ESA, we would likely not have bald eagles in the lower-48. There might be no Southern sea otters, Florida panthers, peregrine falcons, gray wolves, Florida manatees, American alligators, grizzly bears, Apache trout or black-footed ferrets. The ESA has literally saved hundreds of species from the brink of extinction. It is the best wildlife management tool we have for species facing extinction.
Polluting industries and other economic special interests have wanted to weaken or eliminate the ESA’s protections for decades, laying the unfounded blame for all types of economic maladies at its doorstep. But ultimately support for or against the act comes down to a question of values.
When we passed the ESA more 40 years ago, it was a statement about our country’s commitment to protecting our nation’s wildlife heritage for future generations. Are we now going to abandon that commitment and decades of meaningful endangered species progress and allow anti-environmental ideologues to dismember the ESA and accelerate species extinction?
I encourage you to consider editorializing for your readers about Congress’ attempt to dismantle the Endangered Species Act with next week’s vote on bill HR4315. Please contact me for additional information or request to interview one of our subject matter experts.
- Here is a fact sheet we’ve develop with more information about this package of bills:http://www.defenders.org/sites/default/files/publications/four-house-esa-attacks.pdf