Wildlife Advocates Call on Congress to Defend Endangered Species Act
WASHINGTON (February 7, 2018) – More than 240 environmental, animal welfare and conservation organizations sent a letter to House and Senate leadership today, calling on them to reject riders in 2018 Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency appropriations legislation that would erode the Endangered Species Act and other safeguards for wildlife. The letter comes as Congress is poised to pass yet another continuing resolution that could pave the way for negotiations to begin on a final omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2018.
This year’s House and Senate bills currently include provisions that would strip away federal protections for the Mexican gray wolf and several other species, choke off funding for listed species if wildlife agencies cannot complete their five-year species reviews on time and block protections for sage-grouse, among many others.
View the full letter here.
Joint Quote Issued by Signatory Organizations:
“The conservation challenges America faces today are even greater and more complex than they were when the Endangered Species Act was first enacted. We face the reality of climate change and other enormous threats to our planet’s biodiversity — which in turn threatens our own survival as a
species. Clearly, now is not the time to weaken the best tool our nation has to combat what scientists have determined is the sixth major extinction phase experienced on this planet.”
About the Endangered Species Act:
The Endangered Species Act remains the most effective and important law to protect animal and plant species at risk of extinction. Ninety-nine percent of species listed under the Act have survived, and many more are on the path to recovery, including the bald eagle, the brown pelican and the humpback whale. It is also one of our most popular conservation laws. According to a June 2015 poll, 90 percent of American voters support the Endangered Species Act.
Harmful provisions included in the 2018 spending legislation would:
· Strip federal protections for iconic American wildlife including the gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf, the sage-grouse and the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. Such decisions should be based on the best available science, not politics.
· Block federal funding for listed species if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or National Marine Fisheries Service fails to complete their five-year reviews on time. If passed, this legislative language would suspend all federal conservation actions for more than 900 endangered and threatened species with past-due five-year reviews—about 54 percent of all listed species. These federal agencies currently lack the funds to complete timely reviews. Endangered and threatened species should not be made to suffer and decline toward extinction because agencies lack adequate funding to fulfill their responsibilities.
· Block a Department of the Interior rule to conserve native carnivores on federally protected preserves in Alaska.
· Prevent FWS from taking any steps to list the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. This is the fourth year that this rider has been included. In September 2015, FWS determined that the greater sage-grouse was not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act, citing an unprecedented landscape-scale planning process as reducing threats to sage-grouse. That plan will almost certainly be weakened under a new process initiated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, yet this amendment would prevent a listing for sage-grouse, even if this species slips closer to extinction.
· Attack protections for gray wolves and sage-grouse. Additionally, the Senate bill includes a rider that would prevent FWS from even considering listing the imperiled lesser prairie-chicken.
· Override the longstanding Endangered Species Act Section 7 requirement of re-initiating interagency consultation once a species is listed, critical habitat is designated or new pertinent information on a listed species becomes available.