Jamie Rappaport Clark, © Defenders of Wildlife

The House’s Continued Assault on Endangered Species

Earlier this year, Representative Doc Hastings, a powerful foe of wildlife conservation and Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, launched a horribly biased and slanted attack on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It began with the release of a report and set of ESA “reform” proposals prepared by a highly partisan “committee” formed by Hastings, with support from like-minded anti-ESA members of the House. The report outlined an aggressive and hostile legislative strategy to weaken or even eliminate a wide range of key ESA protections for imperiled wildlife. Today, we’re seeing the first line of attack from that strategy emerge, as Rep. Hastings guides to the House floor a bill that will make it much harder to protect endangered species from sliding towards extinction.

Florida panther, ©Connie Bransilver/USFWS

Florida panther, ©Connie Bransilver/USFWS

Rep. Hastings is savvy enough to avoid launching a broad scale attack on the ESA in its entirety; he knows public support for protecting imperiled wildlife continues to be very high. So instead, he is selectively packaging his first round of “balanced reform” attacks on key sections of the ESA. Rep. Hastings knows that if he succeeds with these amendments, he will have taken a major step in undermining the ESA. Unfortunately for Hastings, the White House sees through the ploy, and today the Obama Administration released a veto threat saying that if the President were presented with H.R. 4315, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill. We’re grateful the the White House has taken such a strong stand on protecting imperlied species.

Despite Rep. Hastings’ cynical claims to the contrary, this bill will do nothing to enhance the recovery of our nation’s endangered wildlife. In fact, it will significantly reduce the ability of the public to hold federal agencies accountable for complying with the ESA, it will generate much more red tape in implementing the law, and it will undermine the long standing requirement that decisions under the ESA be based upon the best available science.

And guess who stands to benefit the most if this bill is passed? Not surprisingly, the oil and gas industry, timber and mining companies and other economic special interests. These special interest groups have campaigned to weaken ESA protections for decades, and sadly they have found their latest willing ally in Rep. Hastings. His bill would help these industries by removing important checks and balances as they seek to circumvent the ESA’s provisions protecting imperiled species.

California condor, © USFWS

California condor, © USFWS

If Rep. Hastings and his ESA wrecking crew have their way, the ESA would be selectively “reformed” into oblivion – dismantled piece by piece – even as Hastings’ crew continues to profess their deep love for endangered species. In truth, with ESA “friends” like Rep. Hastings, why would the ESA need any other enemies?

The more important question is, why have political leaders like Rep. Hastings turned their backs on the values and commitment our nation made 40 years ago when we passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the ESA? It was this commitment to a higher set of conservation values that led to the passage of these landmark conservation laws. Protecting our air, land, water and imperiled wildlife for our children and their children is as noble a cause today as it was back in the 1970′s. If Rep. Hastings and his supporters no longer support these lofty values, they owe us all an explanation for recklessly squandering our future.

Our political leaders are drifting radically off course, abandoning values we’ve embraced for generations. Don’t let the voices of the powerful few outweigh the interests of the majority of us who know the importance of conserving biological diversity in our country and want our natural heritage protected for future generations and beyond.

Originally published on HuffPost Green

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16 Responses to “The House’s Continued Assault on Endangered Species”

  1. wendy g

    All wildlife is becoming increasingly diminished due to greed of man. Without the animals the world will be consumed by diseases & sickness. The animals all are vital to the survival of earth & man.
    Educated yourselves…learn the facts. SAVE THE ANIMALS

    Reply
  2. Julia Rudman

    In Europe an online petition has been started because the spanish government is proposing using sonic cannons off the coast of Ibiza, thus endangering the whales and dolphins that live in the seas there.

    Last week, July 18, President Obama gave the green light for the same to happen off the coast of Florida http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/feds-allow-sonic-cannons-on-floridas-east-coast-to-search-for-oil/2189029

    Please find some way to activate people who are opposed to endangering the nine right whales still living in this area.

    Reply
  3. Cheryle Linturn

    This is an outrage to our world and those we share it with. Politicians forget, as they become more greedy and in tune with their own desires of wining big business financial support for themselves that we are neighbors and we share this world and those that are weaker need our protection. If they would get their heads out of their own agenda they would hear the silent voices cry with a strong voice and only the strong and enlightened person will understand and make the difference.
    Stop this insane madness…it is a holocaust of our world end it or go straight to jail.
    Cheryle Linturn

    Reply
  4. CAROLE

    What is the matter with you people that you can’t comprehend the seriousness o endangered species going extinct? Are you so heartless, so uninformed about the balance of nature, so willing to have most species living in zoos or are you just stupid?

    Reply
  5. Rowland Scherman

    Do not vote for anyone who does not want to preserve imperiled wildlife–in every instance, including pressure from corporations.

    Reply
  6. Ruth Juveland

    I agree with above posts. Most of the wild life animals, mammals, etc. need to be saved. We have to make room for them and educate the people of the world. If they go, we go. Some of these places people wouldn’t live anyway. Watching what is happening in the world today, I rather have more of them than people. Know money is a problem but it is spent most of the time on the wrong countries, things, and people. Good Luck!

    Reply
  7. Elke Hutto

    Only after politicians who authorize the use of the sonic cannon have experienced its immediate affect, should it be authorized for use. In other words, they should be in close proximity, as marine life would, when it’s activated. Makes sense to me. Marine life is more beneficial for the planet than humans.

    Reply
  8. Alexander Yeung

    They going to screw up earth big time. We can’t let them have it.

    Reply
  9. Tim Cammers

    Teddy Roosevelt is rolling in his grave right now. I know he would be yelling at everyone of these politicians and be standing with us on our fighting for the wolf’s and many other animals that are in pain and suffering! I stand by you guys you are doing a wonderful job and I am here to do whatever I can and will stand with you till the end of time even if it brings me to the gates of hell it self. I stand by my oath that I will fight and stay alive until all wildlife is in peace and harmony and mother earth herself takes back what is her’s after that I can rest in peace but until them I will not!

    Reply
  10. Alexander Yeung

    I won’t stop until there is peace and harmony until they are safe from those who will take them for there own desire

    Reply
  11. Mrs Sheila Williams

    It is your duty to protect them,that is why you are in your position of power,please do not turn your back on these animals .At the end of days you will have to answer to your maker.

    Reply
  12. Angel

    Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, Jacques Cousteau, and other like minded people would be appalled by this House. and just who controls the house???? Vote them out of office!!!! We must do everything to keep animals from becoming extinct!!! The Endangered Species Act has done that and it still has more work to do. These idiots CAN NOT be allowed to gut this act, that has protected so many, when there are still many many more to add to the list. We humans are NOT the only animal on this planet…we must learn to share.

    Reply
  13. richard s thompson

    Tell Doc the Croc Hastings to shove it. He represents the type of do nothing Congress that we have in place. He should be thrown into a den of wolverines for as much good as he is doing in Washington.

    Reply
  14. Alexander Yeung

    Doc hastlings or should I call him Doc Hitlerling . He and his mindless, idiotic, and stupidity followers are nothing more than a greedy pack of rats who only want everything for themselves even they desire to get rid of species that stand in their way. The House I am deeply disappointed in you for the outrageous attack on endangered species you are no better from those who have no heart or care for our species that we depends on it. You are supposed to save and protect them not to destroy them. Those that manipulate in the chair of that work in the house also in the other state as governer for their selfishness needs need to be stop and kick out from office before they make thing much worse.

    Reply

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