The 115th Congress has declared war on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Even though the ESA has a 99 percent success rate in preventing the extinction of listed species and 90 percent of the American public strongly supports the law, its opponents are determined to dismantle it. There are now at least 30 bills attacking the law; five of those had a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee in July, suggesting that they are being readied for action. Among other things, these bills would weaken the “citizen suit” provision of the ESA (which allows for legal challenges to the government’s species management decisions), give wealthy game ranchers in Texas carte blanche to breed and kill endangered species without a permit, and remove federal protections from gray wolves in the Great Lakes region.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved its own bill,
S 1514, to remove federal protections from certain populations of gray wolves, prevent court challenges to those decisions, and prohibit the regulation of deadly lead fishing gear, despite substantial research showing that toxic lead in the environment poses a significant hazard to wildlife and the public. Unfortunately, an amendment removing the anti-wolf language was defeated, and an amendment allowing the importation of certain polar bear trophies was approved.
Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee dealt another blow to threatened and endangered species. Its bill to fund the Department of the Interior blocked the department from implementing a proposed rule to protect sage grouse, reinstated wolf delistings in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region, and blocked funding for gray wolf protection in the lower 48 states.
Tell Congress to stand up for the ESA: www.awionline.org/ESA-attacks