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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Republicans have endangered species in their sights

Five House bills would weaken protections for threatened animals
By Sarah Okeson

Republican two-fer: kill initiatives on climate
change and endangered species. Plus, they could
send the Trump brothers out to shoot them.
Radical Republicans are ramping up their attacks on the Endangered Species Act, the landmark legislation that helped save the bald eagle, our nation’s national bird, and protects more than 1,600 species.

The Committee on Natural Resources, led by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) who wants to repeal the act, has advanced five bills that would damage the Endangered Species Act and could lead to the extinction of wolverines, monarch butterflies and hundreds of other endangered and threatened animals, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. 

The full House can now consider the bills.

“This legislative onslaught is a brutal, blatant effort to cripple the Endangered Species Act,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

H.R. 717, sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) would remove deadlines for listing an animal or plant as threatened or endangered and require looking at the economic impact.

H.R. 1274, sponsored by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) requires that the “best scientific and commercial data available”include information from state and local governments that may want to keep an animal or plant from being protected by the Endangered Species Act. Newhouse is also the lawmaker who is working to help dairies pollute our drinking water with cow manure.



H.R. 3131, sponsored by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) makes it harder for people who successfully sue under the act to get back their legal fees and other money they’ve spent.

H.R. 2603, sponsored by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) would prohibit listing non-native species as endangered or threatened and would apply to exotic game species that have been imported into the United States for trophy hunting.

H.R. 424, sponsored by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) would invalidate a 2014 federal court ruling to remove federal protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes states. Gray wolves were once hunted to the brink of extinction in most of the country.

Republicans have portrayed the bills as a way to “modernize” the Endangered Species Act which was signed into law by former President Richard Nixon in 1973. The law had strong support from the Republicans in the 1970s, but it is under increased attack from what the party of Abraham Lincoln has become.

Since January, congressional Republicans have launched at least 46 legislative attacks against the law or endangered species. The Center for Biological Diversity found that Republican attacks on the law increased as the oil and gas industry and agribusiness funneled more cash to Congress.

Action Box/What You Can Do About It
You can write Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources at 1324 Longworth House Office Building / Washington, D.C. 20515 / Phone: (202) 225-2761. His office number is 202-225-0453. Here he is on Facebook.

Here is contact information for the other representatives gutting the Endangered Species Act:
Pete Olson at 202-225-5951.
Dan Newhouse at 202-225-5816.
Bill Huizenga at 202-225-4401.
Louie Gohmert at 202-225-3035.
Collin Peterson at 202-225-2165.

The Center for Biological Diversity can be reached at 520-623-5252 or center@biologicaldiversity.org.