Statement by Andrew Wetzler, NRDC Senior Attorney

WASHINGTON (September 29, 2005 ) -- The House of Representatives passed a sweeping overhaul of the Endangered Species Act today, cutting key protections for endangered wildlife and giving taxpayer money to land developers and the oil and mining industry. By a 229 to 193 vote, the House approved the bill (H.R. 3824) sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Resources Committee, eliminating critical habitat designations, exempting the pesticide industry from wildlife safety regulations, and authorizing millions in payouts to landowners for obeying rules that protect federally protected species.

The following is a statement by Andrew Wetzler, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council:

"It would be scandalous to pass this bill into law. This legislation would do nothing to protect wildlife and, in fact, would lead to more extinctions. "Of the many damaging provisions in this bill, one of the worst would repeal rules that protect endangered species from pesticides like DDT, which nearly killed off the bald eagle years ago.

"The bill also would fleece U.S. taxpayers by paying wealthy developers to comply with endangered species protections. Under a loose compensation scheme, land developers would be able to name their price for lost profits. In America we don't pay people not to pollute.

"Most damaging to species recovery, however, is the bill's complete elimination of essential habitat protections. It defies common sense to expect an endangered species to recover if the place it calls home is converted to condos or paved for a parking lot."