CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
| September 29, 2005
Kieran Suckling (520) 275-5960
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES GUTS ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
In a 229 to 193 vote, falling largely along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill today undermining the U.S. Endangered Species Act. 34 Republicans voted against the bill, 36 Democrats voted for it.
The Endangered Species Act protects 1,300 of America's most endangered plants and animals. Originally created in 1973, it has a saved over 99% of these species from extinction including the Bald Eagle, Grizzly Bear, Gray Wolf, Sea Otter, and Grizzly Bear. It has also lived up to its mission to "protect the ecosystems upon which endangered species depend" by preserving over 200 million acres of essential wildlife habitat from Hawaii to Maine.
Cynically entitled the "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005" by it author, Richard Pombo (R-CA), the bill systematically removes every proven recovery tool from the Endangered Species Act.
"This bill takes a wrecking ball to our nation's most important wildlife protection law," said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Endangered Species Act is the safety net for America's imperiled plants and animals. The Republican dominated House of Representatives have ripped it apart, consigning God's creation to extinction."
A valiant effort to save the Endangered Species Act was fought by both Democrats and Republicans. The Center for Biological Diversity especially thanks: Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), George Miller (D-CA), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Tom Udall, (D-NM), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
Summary of the Bill
- Undermines Species Recovery. Richard Pombo (R-CA) garnered involvement by some environmental groups and Democrats by promising to strengthen protection and recovery standards. At each step in the process of finalizing the bill, however, he reduced protections. The day of the final vote, he pushed through an amendment to completely eliminate the nominal protections he had offered in earlier versions.
"Pombo played a cynical game of bait-and-switch," said Suckling. "He brought people in with false promises, announced the support of environmental groups to the nation, and then systematically stripped every protection clause from his bill."
- Eliminates Habitat Protection. It eliminates all existing and future critical habitat protections—over 200 million acres of habitat protections for species such as the Northern spotted owl, Right whale, Peninsular big horn sheep, Steller sea lion, and desert tortoise. Critical habitat is one of the most successful provisions of the Endangered Species Act: species with critical habitat are recovering twice as fast as species without it.
"Habitat destruction is the main cause of extinction," said Suckling. "This bill sends conservation back to the stone age. It eliminates the most important, most scientifically-based, most successful approach to protecting ecosystems."
- Exempts Pesticides from Environmental Review. In a stunning blow to America's system of checks and balances, the bill exempts the production and spraying of pesticides from review under the Endangered Species Act.
"At a time when deformed frogs are being found in lakes and rivers across the nation, it is a dangerous travesty to exempt pesticides from environmental review," said Suckling.
- Politicizes Science. The bill replaces the Endangered Species Act focus on using only the "best available science" and relying on scientists to define what is best, with a completely political system: it allows the Secretary of Interior, a political appointee, to define what science should and should not be used.
- Diverts the Nation's Environmental Budget to Corporations. Pombo's bill takes the Fish and Wildlife Service's budget hostage by allowing corporations to reap hundreds of millions of dollars by simply asserting that they have been harmed by endangered species protections. The Department of Interior will then have to pay the corporations for their speculative "foregone" profits out of the budget established for America's national parks, wildlife refuges, and endangered species.
"The takings provision of the bill is litigation magnet," said Suckling, "even the White House budget office concluded that it will dramatically increase corporate lawsuits against the Department of Interior at an enormous cost to the American tax payer."
FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 506
(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)
---- AYES 229 ---
---- NOES 193 ---
---- NOT VOTING 11 ---