The Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973 with the intent to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a “consequence of economic growth and development.” The U.S. Supreme Court found that “the plain intent of Congress in enacting” the ESA “was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.”
Blue Ocean has reported on endangered species, most recently in the story of manatees washed ashore in Sarasota Bay in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Now however those manatees and all other endangered species protected by the Endangered Species Act are in peril from congressional Republicans hoping to use the Trump presidency as an opportunity to undermine the 43 year old law.
As reported in Salon.com, five bills are being advanced by Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee that can seriously threaten the ESA and its ability to enforce the law.
A coalition of environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club declare these bills “serve the same purpose of undermining the law [and] disadvantaging species conservation, all under the guise of ‘modernizing and collaborating,'” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, CEO of Defenders of Wildlife.
“But it will only make the challenge of recovering species on the brink of extinction infinitely more difficult.”
Breaking News: House, Senate Committees Attack Environmental Laws Using Wildfires as Pretext
EcoWatch just published an update on the Republican legislation that is in hearings this week. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is to consider three bills that will severely limit environmental reviews on logging on public lands.
“Timber companies would be the only winners if these terrible bills pass,” said Brett Hartl, of the Center for Biological Diversity. “No matter what issue our public lands face, the knee-jerk response from congressional Republicans is an effort to gut our environmental laws. They’re willing to sacrifice our wildlife, healthy streams and rivers, and vibrant public lands on the altar of private profit.”
“Republicans have repeatedly cut resources to the Forest Service, making it harder for agency workers to do their jobs,” Hartl said. “Then the GOP scapegoats environmental laws for the problems that these funding cuts have caused. It’s an incredibly cynical and dangerous strategy.”
Improving the Law into Extinction!
Republicans have attacked the Endangered Species Act before, framing their arguments as an effort to “improve the law.” However the truth slipped out during a recent congressional hearing when Rep Rob Bishop R-Utah declared “I would be happy to invalidate the Endangered Species Act.”
Fortunately, polling suggests that 90% of voters support the Endangered Species Act with a majority stressing that decisions regarding the act should be made by scientists instead of politicians. Consequently, instead of an outright repeal Republicans hope their five bills will “reform” the Endangered Species Act into extinction.
by Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See these Blue Ocean Articles on Endangered Species:
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