Today the House Natural Resources Committee begins the latest chapter in their ongoing war to undermine the Endangered Species Act (ESA), our nation’s premier safety net for plants, fish and wildlife on the brink of extinction, with a legislative hearing on four bills. Each of these bills is consistent with the anti-environmental report and series of anti-conservation recommendations Representative Doc Hastings and his self-appointed, partisan “ESA Working Group” issued earlier this year, which outlines an aggressive and hostile legislative strategy to weaken or even eliminate protections for imperiled wildlife.
In response to this legislation, a coalition of conservation groups including the Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club issued the following statements:
“Don’t be fooled by this piecemeal approach—this is just the tip of the iceberg. These bills are drawn directly from Representative Hastings’ recent report containing proposals that essentially gut the Endangered Species Act, making species extinction more likely and recovery of many of our most endangered species almost impossible. Anyone supporting these bills is buying into Congressman Hastings’ much larger radical far right agenda to sacrifice our wildlife heritage to land use and resource extraction industries.” – Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife.
“For 40 years the Endangered Species Act has been our nation’s safety net for fish, plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction, and one of our most successful environmental laws. We owe it to future generations of Americans to protect endangered species and the special places they call home.” – Leda Huta, executive director of Endangered Species Coalition.
“No law has been more important in preventing the extinction of wildlife, including bald eagles, gray whales and the peregrine falcon. Many more species are on the road to recovery because of the Endangered Species Act. These attacks undermine the Act’s essential protections for species on the brink of extinction.” – Marjorie Mulhall, legislative counsel for Earthjustice.
“For decades the Endangered Species Act has served as a successful safety net for America’s plants and wildlife,” “The cost of weakening these protections in order to benefit special interests will be extinction for a number of plants and animals.” – Dan Chu, senior director of Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign.
“The House Republicans supporting these bills are trying to pull a Jedi mind trick on the public. They know Americans overwhelmingly support the imperiled animals and plants protected by the Endangered Species Act. So, instead of openly taking a whack at one of the nation’s most beloved laws, they are hoodwinking the public into thinking these bills will help endangered species when they will do the exact opposite. Folks supporting these bills are trying to undermine the Endangered Species Act. Period.” – Andrew Wetzler, director of NRDC Land & Wildlife Program.
“There isn’t a single provision—or even single word—in any of these bills that would help any species anywhere in the country move toward recovery. Protecting species has never been of genuine interest to Doc Hastings or to the witnesses who will heap praise on these ludicrous Tea Party bills. No one should be fooled by their calls for ‘reform,’ because all they want to do is weaken the Endangered Species Act and restrict the right of the American public to make sure it’s enforced.” – Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity.