January/February/March 2014 Legislative Threats to the Endangered Species Act


It may be a new year, but House Republicans seem bent on the same old resolutions including weakening the Endangered Species Act, all under the pretext of “improving it.” On February 4, the House’s “ESA Working Group,” which includes some the most ardent opponents of species protections, released a report on their recommendations for the Act. While the report’s authors attempt to appear reasonable in their recommendations (they know, like we do, that the Endangered Species Act is sacrosanct to most Americans), the report is disingenuous, reeking of hypocrisy.

My favorite part? The report repeatedly commiserates with the Fish and Wildlife Service, stating that environmental groups make their jobs so difficult by enforcing our nation’s laws, when in reality these GOP members have no regard for the Service’s work.  I mean if they actually wanted to make the Fish and Wildlife Service’s job easier they would fund endangered species programs, instead of trying to ZERO their resources for endangered species protections like they did in 2011.

                                               (C) Fish and Wildlife Service

Making the déjà vu even worse, the House passed, by a vote of 229-161, H.R. 3964—yet another attack on the Endangered Species Act based on the false pretext that the Act is causing water restrictions in California when, in reality, it’s the drought that’s the problem. The bill (which was numbered H.R. 1837 last year) would weaken or eliminate protections for California’s rivers, salmon fishery, and Bay-Delta estuary. My colleague Doug Obegi has written more about here.

Yes, we may have started 2014 just a few short months ago…but it looks like more of the same when it comes to congressional threats to our nation’s imperiled species.