By Christina Tarr
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973, currently protects more than 1,600 species and has likely saved at least 2,223 others from extinction. It has allowed the designation of millions of acres of critical habitat, and it has very strong public support. Read the Center for Biological Diversity’s description of how successful the Act has been.
Five Republican-sponsored bills that would weaken the ESA have recently passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources and are now before the House. They include:
- H.R. 424, which would remove protections for gray wolf populations in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states;
- H.R. 717, which allows the Departments of Interior or Commerce to prioritize consideration of petitions to list species other than in the order in which the petitions are received, and does not allow prioritization of species to be listed over species to be delisted. It also gives each department the authority to preclude listing a species if there is the likelihood of significant, cumulative economic effects;
- H.R. 1274, which says that Interior or Commerce must use data submitted by a state, tribal, or county government in making determinations of species listed, thus forcing regulators to accept any information even if it doesn’t meet scientific standards of peer review;
- H.R. 2603 (SAVES Act), which amends the ESA to disallow listing on nonnative species; and
- H.R. 3131, the Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act, which amends the ESA to replace the current standard for awarding court costs, including attorney fees, in citizen suits with the federal judicial code standard for awarding costs to a prevailing party – thus making it harder for citizens to challenge illegal government actions in court.
What you can do:
Please call your Representative to say that you support the Endangered Species Act and that you oppose these five bills that would weaken it.
Hello, my name is [__________] from [______]. I urge Representative ____ to oppose five dangerous bills that attack the Endangered Species Act, peer-reviewed science, endangered species, and the right of Americans to go to court to defend them: H.R. 424, H.R. 717, H.R. 1274, H.R. 2603, and H.R. 3131.
Among other things, these bills would strip protections for imperiled wolves in Wyoming and the upper Midwest and allow for wolf hunting in those states; cripple enforcement of illegal wildlife trafficking; stymie citizens’ ability to challenge illegal government actions in court; and allow regulators to accept any information that is presented by state, local or tribal governments as science—even if it doesn’t meet scientific standards of peer review.
- Track the progress of bills at Govtrack and Congress.gov
- Earthjustice articles here and here
- Center for Biological Diversity articles here and here
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service article
Christina Tarr is a local librarian with an interest in birds and wild places.