On Friday, the Senate released its proposed budget to fund the government for the next 7 months. Unlike the House budget bill, which was loaded with anti-environmental riders, the Senate bill has just one -- one single ‘rider’ that has nothing to do with funding and therefore has no business being in a spending bill. What provision seemed so important that it rose to the level of being the only exception to what should be a no-rider policy in the Senate?
That’s right, the only rider in the Senate continuing resolution bill would remove protections from gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Not only that, if passed, it would mark the first time Congress has ever removed any species from the Endangered Species List – a process that should be dictated by science, not politics. And while it would be the first time, it probably would not be the last. By allowing this provision, Congress would go a long way towards rendering one of our bedrock conservation laws ineffective. If endangered species decisions are allowed to be made by politicians, rather than qualified wildlife experts, then there is no point in having an Endangered Species Act at all.
Congress has enough to figure out with this spending bill: funding the military, implementing health care, addressing the deficit. Wolves and the Endangered Species Act simply should not be along for the ride. Congress should stay out of legislating decisions that should be left to scientists. And they should keep non-funding legislation out of their spending bills. The solution is simple: Congress should stick to its job of funding the government – and leave the wolves out of it.
Photo credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service