January/February 2013 Threats to the Endangered Species Act

I know I’ve missed a few months of this blog, but there was nothing to report! With the country’s focus on elections, there wasn’t a ton of action on the Hill. But with the elections and inauguration over, Congress is back to business, which for many Members means back to attacking the Endangered Species Act.

Here are the legislative threats to the ESA we saw over the past two months:

  • Rep. Jones (R-NC) reintroduced his bill (H.R. 819) from last congress that would block implementation of a National Park Service plan that protects beach-nesting piping plovers -- a threatened species -- and sea turtles, from vehicles at Cape Hatteras. Prior to the NPS plan, high vehicle traffic on Cape Hatteras beaches not only interrupted bird and sea turtle nesting and feeding patterns, but it also killed these species directly by crushing them. If Rep. Jones has his way, Cape Hatteras will revert back to this state.
  • Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a bill (S. 19) that gives the oil and gas industry, corporations, and local politicians the power to veto settlements aimed at protecting our country’s endangered animals and plants. The so-called “Endangered Species Act Settlement Reform Act” includes a provision to grant any corporation the ability to intervene in a settlement over species protections between the government and a citizen or nonprofit group. It would also give state and local politicians veto power over agreements designed to save species from extinction.
  • Sen. Vitter (R-LA) introduced the “Energy Production and Project Delivery Act of 2013” (S. 17) which, among a host of terrible provisions, would prevent the consideration of greenhouse gases for ESA listings. It would also gut ESA protections in the Bay-Delta for native salmon, steelhead, and other listed species. Rep. Bishop (R-UT) has announced that he’ll introduce a companion bill.
  • While not a bill, the “Energy Vision” Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) released in early February would negatively affect every aspect of our environment – from our lands, to our oceans, to our forests. Provisions affecting endangered species include changes to the ESA that would make it more difficult to list species and more difficult to ensure that the government and others are complying with the ESA. 

That’s all for now!

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