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Friday, November 06, 2015

Senators Call on President Obama to Veto Extinction

The Endangered Species Act is under attack in Congress. A small cadre of Republican Senators and Representatives have introduced more than 80 legislative proposals in this session alone to undermine protections for certain species—such as the greater sage grouse, northern long-eared bat, and gray wolf—or to otherwise weaken this important federal statute. And it’s not just posturing and showmanship; there are a record number of harmful riders in the FY 2016 Interior appropriations bills.

ESA pic
Photo credit: www.facebook.com/corybooker

Thankfully, a group of 25 U.S. Senators—led by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.—is standing up for sound science and conservation. They sent a letter to President Obama urging him to reject all spending bill riders that would undermine Endangered Species Act protections.

The defenders of the ESA wrote, “In 1973, as an increasing number of plant and animal species were disappearing, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. More than 40 years later, our world’s wildlife is again at a critical point. The extinction of earth’s species is now at its highest rate since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, with human activity—including significant ecological impacts from climate change—initiating an extinction crisis on our planet. Now more than ever we need a strong, fully funded, and enforced Endangered Species Act. This law has prevented 99 percent of the species under its care from going extinct."

“We strongly urge that you oppose all appropriations riders that would undermine Endangered Species Act protections, including the rider that is included in both the Senate and House versions of the FY 2016 Interior appropriations bill that would remove federal protections for gray wolves,” the Senators concluded.

The Senate letter, in combination with a House letter sent in September by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and 91 other Representatives urging the White House to veto any appropriations or defense bills with policy riders undermining the ESA, makes it clear that the President should stay strong and reject a final spending package with ideological ESA riders.

Some politicians talk a good game about scientific wildlife management, except when they don’t like a certain species and want to ensure that politics is positioned to trump science. They want to dictate wildlife management by legislative fiat, subverting the expertise of scientists, an established public process, and emphatic rulings by federal courts. We can’t have officials plucking animals from the endangered species list because a nattering band of their constituents are demanding it. That’s precisely why these decisions are based on the evidence presented by scientists, and that’s why there is judicial review built into the process. Their riders on wolves, for example, would hand over management to hostile states in which more than 1,700 wolves have been killed in the last few years with the aid of leghold traps, snares, packs of hounds, bait sites, clubs, and firearms. We are grateful to the lawmakers who are speaking out and injecting some common-sense into the debate.

Please add your voice to theirs, and help keep the ESA intact. Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and urge President Obama to veto extinction and reject any final spending packages that contain riders that undermine the ESA.

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