June Threats to the Endangered Species Act

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While no new bills aimed at derailing the Endangered Species Act were introduced this month, we saw some action on a couple of previously introduced bills. 

The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held two hearings on H.R. 1837, which would, among other things, prevent flows adequate to protect threatened and endangered fish species in California’s Bay Delta. For more information on this bill, see here.

Additionally, the House passed H.R. 872, an awful bill that would exempt applications of pesticides to waterways from the Clean Water Act.  This, in turn, would wreak havoc on freshwater fish populations, including endangered and commercially valuable ones.  The bill now moves to the Senate floor, but Sen. Cardin (D-MD), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee's Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, placed a hold on it.

In the Senate, Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) both introduced entirely unrelated amendments to the Economic Development Revitalization reauthorization bill (S. 782).  Sen. Cornyn’s amendment (no. 397) would amend the Endangered Species Act to exempt the sand dune lizard from its protections.  Similarly, Sen. Inhofe’s amendment (no. 429) would amend the Endangered Species Act to exempt the lesser prairie chicken.  In some ways, these amendments are even worse than the wolf rider attached to the current Continuing Resolution, as they would actually amend the Endangered Species Act, as opposed to reinstituting a federal regulation. Fortunately, both amendments were put on hold, but we expect to see them resurface in the near future in the form of a rider or amendment.

Thankfully, June was a little less active on the endangered species front, giving us time to prepare for July’s big fight:  ensuring that the Department of Interior Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012 is free of riders and maintains adequate levels of funding to protect our wildlife and wildlands.  In the House Interior Appropriations bill released yesterday, we saw numerous riders that would derail the Endangered Species Act, including one that would prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from listing any new species or designating critical habitat for any species currently listed under the Act, and one barring the delisting of gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes from judicial review.  

It's going to be a busy month!