Six of the nation's leading endangered species protection groups today issued a statement to members of the US House of Representatives' Resources Committee urging them to stop using the mask of better science and the problems in the Klamath Basin to embark on a witch-hunt designed to dismantle the Endangered Species Act. The House Resources Committee is holding a hearing today to further examine the findings of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) interim report on endangered species in the Klamath River Basin.
The groups charge that members of the committee are cynically seeking to heighten the controversy surrounding the Klamath in order to push through changes to the ESA that are designed to add unnecessary roadblocks, delays, and cost to implementing the Act. Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition, Sierra Club, USPIRG, and The Wilderness Society sent their statement to committee members on Wednesday.
"Most of these proposals, which attempt to legislate a 'one size fits all' approach to science, go back to the 104th Congress, when members mounted a stealth campaign to roll back a range of conservation and public health laws," said Susan Holmes of Earthjustice. "The Congress and public rejected these proposals then, and they should again," said Holmes.
The groups called on the committee to "...stop trying to dismantle the ESA and start working for real solutions that address the problem of water quality and quantity in the Klamath," and to "support a comprehensive plan to restore the Klamath Basin..."
They also added that, "The very National Academy of Sciences report that Committee members are using to discredit the ESA dramatically underscores how important it is to address the problem of water pollution in the basin. "
The conservation groups are calling on the House committee to support long-term solutions for the Klamath Basin including:
- Reduce water demand in the Klamath Basin through water efficiency and willing seller buyouts
- Restore wetlands throughout the basin which are key to filtering and purifying lake and river waters
- Take steps to reduce pollution from farms and ranches
- Restore the National Wildlife Refuges
- Appropriate adequate funds to accomplish the goals cited above
The letter sent to committee members concludes, "The ESA is not the villain here, but an indicator that the ecosystem is critically broken."
Copies of the statement are available. Please call Suzanne Carrier at Earthjustice – 202.667.4500, x. 213