WASHINGTON— The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife will hold a legislative hearing Tuesday to review the Extinction Prevention Act of 2019, introduced by Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Lawmakers will also examine a separate bill that would overturn new Trump administration rules that cripple the Endangered Species Act.
Grijalva’s Extinction Prevention Act would establish four grant programs. Each program would be funded at $5 million per year to provide urgently needed on-the-ground conservation actions for the four groups of endangered species at greatest risk of extinction: freshwater mussels, desert fish, Hawaiian plants and North American butterflies.
“We’re facing a global extinction crisis, so it’s encouraging to see Congress finally addressing threats to our natural heritage,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Each year hundreds of endangered species receive virtually no money or resources for recovery. This legislation is a desperately needed first step to stemming the nation’s loss of wildlife.”
A 2016 study found that Congress only provides approximately 3.5 percent of the funding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own scientists estimate is needed to recover species. But roughly 1 in 4 species receives less than $10,000 a year toward recovery.
The legislation would support programs like the Hawaiian Plant Extinction Prevention Program, which works to save more than 237 endangered plant species, each of which has fewer than 50 plants remaining in the wild. Since the program’s inception in 2003, no Hawaiian plants have gone extinct. But the Trump administration gutted nearly all funding for this program.
The subcommittee will also consider H.R. 4348, the Paw and Fin Act of 2019. This legislation would reverse the Trump administration’s recently finalized regulatory rollback of the Endangered Species Act.
The Trump rollbacks weakened protections for critical habitat and made it harder to add species to the lists of threatened and endangered species. The changes reduce protections for any species listed as “threatened,” and gut the federal consultation process designed to protect species from harmful federal agency activities.
“Congress must pass the Paw and Fin Act so our endangered plants and animals can still have a fighting chance to survive,” said Hartl. “The American people do not support Trump’s grotesque polluter-first agenda, and Congress must show they don’t support it either.”
Tuesday’s hearing will consider eight other bills, including the following legislation that would also benefit imperiled wildlife:
- H.R. 2854 by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), which would prohibit the use of neonicotinoids in national wildlife refuges;
- H.R. 4340 by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), which would help conserve endangered salamanders around the world;
- H.R. 4341 by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), which would assist in the conservation of critically endangered species in foreign countries.