July 2012 Threats to the Endangered Species Act


Farm Bill

The House version of the farm bill (H.R. 6083), which was introduced this month, not only cuts conservation programs by $6 billion, but also contains two provisions that would harm wildlife – especially species that rely on fresh water.

Indeed, Section 10016 undermines measures that protect imperiled species from toxic pesticides. More than one billion tons of pesticides are used each year in the U.S., harming salmon, frogs, sea turtles, birds, and other species. This section would put the interests of pesticide manufacturers ahead of the health of our wildlife and communities by preventing EPA from taking action to protect endangered species from harmful pesticides without the voluntary agreement of a pesticide manufacturer.

Additionally, Section 10017 would allow pesticides to be directly applied to our streams and rivers without any oversight. Not only would this affect human health since it would contaminate our drinking water, but it would also harm species that live in and otherwise rely on these waters.

If these provisions sound familiar, it’s because they are. We’ve seen them both a number of times this Congress.

                                Courtesy of the Fish and Wildlife Service


Rep. Carter (R-TX) and Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) introduced companion bills (H.R. 6219 and S. 3446) in the House and Senate that would amend the Endangered Species Act so that its protections don’t apply to four species of salamanders in central Texas.

The bills’ sponsors refer to their legislation as merely preventing the premature listing of these species, insinuating that if listing ever became necessary the bills would not prevent such action. But the truth is that these bills would essentially prevent the Endangered Species Act from protecting these species permanently.

Laughably, Rep. Carter has even justified his bill by stating that "[e]ndangered species listing decisions should be made with peer-reviewed sound science . . .” Let’s be honest. If Rep. Carter truly believed that the listing process should be based on science, his bill wouldn’t completely override the scientific process on which listing decisions must be based under the law.

Endangered Species and Wildfires

The House Natural Resources Committee this month held yet another oversight hearing regarding the Endangered Species Act entitled “The Impact of Catastrophic Forest Fires and Litigation on People and Endangered Species: Time for Rational Management of our Nation's Forests.” Continuing their trend of basing hearings on myths – not reality – Natural Resources Committee Republicans used the opportunity to criticize the Endangered Species Act for blocking activities that help prevent fires. But, as a report released by the Committee’s Democratic staff outlines, this just simply isn't true. Instead, less than 0.05% of all hazardous fuels work on over ten million acres of land have been impacted by ESA protections. Perhaps these Members should come up with some better uses of their time!