News From Capitol Hill

Drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge May Be Imminent

On April 28th, the House and the Senate both approved the final annual budget resolution conference report, which effectively permits potentially devastating activity on the coastal plain of Alaska's Arctic National Refuge. According to the House Budget Committee Minority Leader, Representative John Spratt (D-SC), "Although the budget resolution conference report does not explicitly assume revenues from drilling in the Arctic Refuge, this policy could be accommodated in a reconciliation bill under the terms of the budget resolution."

The resolution passed narrowly, as the House approved the plan by a vote of 214-211, and the Senate approved it by a vote of 52-47. The House and the Senate must still reconcile the two resolutions and agree on a final version, which is expected to reach President Bush's desk for his signature by September. However, there is still time for legislators to oppose any measure that opens this pristine environment to oil drilling.


 

CAFTA: A Catastrophe for Animals...

 

Sadly, on July 28th the House of Representatives passed CAFTA by a vote of 217-215.  To see how your Representative voted click here.  Please thank those who voted against CAFTA.

 

Remaining true to the message personified by the turtle costumes we created for the 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) protest in Seattle, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) remains vehemently opposed to the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)—and any other agreement that puts big business ahead of animals, the environment and even human rights. This proposed trade pact between the United States and the Central American nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua would create a trade and investment bloc between these nations, furthering the corporate globalization model.

In addition to the US-based non-governmental organizations joining us in opposition of CAFTA, virtually every environmental, humane and human rights organization in Central America opposes it as well. Even the region's Catholic Bishops are against the agreement. Some opponents have paid for their outspokenness with their lives, as the governments of El Salvador and Guatemala resort to lethal force to repress anti-CAFTA demonstrations.

We have no doubt that CAFTA was designed deliberately and expressly to sweep away already fragile barriers to the takeover of agriculture, and the destruction of small family farms by American corporations. Obstacles to environmental devastation promise to be effaced as well. Costa Rican environmentalists note one of the first impacts of the agreement will be to overturn laws enjoining pit mining in national parks and offshore oil drilling by American interests. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), by according deference to investor's rights over environmental protection, has been a calamity for wildlife; CAFTA promises to be an equally disastrous cousin.

Displacement of family farmers by agribusiness corporations has not only been an environmental and social disaster—it has been accompanied by abuse of farm animals on an unprecedented scale and degree in human history. AWI is deeply involved in defending traditional, humane family farmers in the United States and Central Europe from the malignant invasion of the corporate giants, both for their sake and the sake of the animals. Years of on-the-ground struggle have convinced us industrial methods of "producing meat" have not "succeeded." Hundreds of American farmers are doing very well raising pigs according to our humane criteria, the only true standards ensuring the welfare of animals raised for food. Political corruption is an indispensable element of agribusiness success.

Proponents of CAFTA are pushing hard to garner favorable votes in Congress including back door deals in exchange for much-needed votes. The Senate just approved the trade agreement, and the House of Representatives is expected to vote on it soon. Your prompt action is critical to ensure the measure is rejected.


 

Stop the Flow of Illegally Acquired Pets to Laboratories

 

SUPPORT S. 451

If adopted, S. 451 will ensure that no one's beloved companion animal ends up in an experimental laboratory.

Illegally acquired animals, poor records and failure to provide needed veterinary care and essentials, such as decent food and fresh water, are the modus operandi of random source dealers. Licensed as "Class B" by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), they profit from selling companion animals to laboratories for experimentation.

Increasing numbers of research facilities are opting to discontinue this archaic and irresponsible practice, but not all. Some carry on using random source dealers despite knowledge of the inherent problems. To our horror, the University of Missouri continued to purchase animals from notorious dealer C. C. Baird for over a year after USDA seized more than 100 animals from his premises and filed a complaint regarding hundreds of apparent violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Fortunately, Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) has reintroduced the Pet Safety and Protection Act, S. 451, to stop the sale of dogs and cats to research facilities by random source dealers. Akaka explained that the measure will end fraudulent practices associated with this trade and reduce the unnecessary suffering of animals without impeding research.


 

A PAWS-itive Step to Protect Dogs and Cats in the Pet Trade

 

 

SUPPORT H.R. 2669 and OPPOSE S. 1139

Many puppies and kittens are sold over the Internet and through newspaper advertisements, and consumers are misled to believe the seller is a small hobby breeder raising animals at home—when in fact they are buying from a large-scale commercial operation. Unfortunately, the operations that sell the animals they breed directly to the public are exempt from federal oversight. Many young animals and adults used for breeding are thus subject to appalling conditions and callous treatment, and there has been little recourse for improving their situation.

However, there is hope Representatives Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) introduced, H.R. 2669, the Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS), to extend the protections under the Animal Welfare Act to these huge breeding operations.


 

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

 

Please urge your Senators and Representative to oppose any measure to open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling.

A vote on CAFTA by the House of Representatives is imminent. Contact your Representative to urge opposition to CAFTA.

Also send letters to your Senators, asking them to cosponsor S. 451, the Pet Safety and Protection Act.

Address Senators:
The Honorable (full name)
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Address Representatives:
The Honorable (full name)
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Call us or visit www.compassionindex.org for names of your Members of Congress and for updates on animal-related legislation, and please send us news of any correspondence you receive from your legislators!

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