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Should Congress Unwind Provisions of the Endangered Species Act?

by Countable | 7.19.17

Republican leaders on the House Natural Resources Committee pushed through five bills that seek to change the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which has Democrats on the committee up in arms. The bills call for reviews of the economic cost of adding a name to the endangered species list, to not allow nonnative species to be listed as endangered species and caps attorney’s fees in endangered species cases, which opponents say would reduce public access to the courts.

"We know that the law has been incredibly effective- but despite all of these facts, a handful of Senators and Congressmen who have risen to positions of influence over ESA legislation are pushing the agenda of fringe, anti-government groups, corporate polluters and those who want the act to just go away," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) told reporters at the Capitol.

"These bills frankly are an embarrassment, they lack anything remotely resembling the broad bipartisan that has backed successful ESA legislation in the past. But the Republican House majority is hell-bent on pushing them through over our objections, your objections, on the false, false premise that ‘We’re reforming, we’re modernizing and we’re streamlining the act,’ Rep. Grijalva continued.

Supporters of these bills believe that the ESA, passed in 1973, has lost its focus and is suspect to being taken advantage of by environmentalist groups.

"If you step back from the five bills we’re talking about today, there’s a common theme. And that theme is that a small number of radical litigants are gaming the system at tax payer expense. And as a result, they’re wasting the scarce resources that we should be putting forth for species that are truly in need of protection and for on the ground conservation efforts," Kent Holsinger a lawyer and proponent of the proposed changes testified before the committee.

Supporters of the current ESA say it has kept 99 percent of its list of species alive and on a path to meeting their recovery goals. That point was echoed by wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin who says the ESA has led to the increase of bald eagles from 400 to 20,000.

"We’ve become complacent because we are reaping the rewards of the Endangered Species Act," Corwin testified. “The deer that forge through our property, the elk that now move through the great west, the wolves that howl in the Yellowstone ecosystem, this is now our reality. We have become complacent because we have seen recovery of species. But as quickly as it has come, it can just as quickly go away.”

Contact your representative and let them know your thoughts!

— Matt Laslo

(Photo credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr / Creative Commons )

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(182)
  • Christopher
    07/20/2017
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    The fact that there is even one, let alone FIVE bills that seek to weaken the ESA is so utterly repugnant and offensive to me that words cannot truly express my condemnation. For fuck's sake, STOP HARMING OUR ENVIRONMENT IN THE NAME OF GREED!! This is not we the people want or need! Start listening to your constituents!!! I'm mainly talking to you, Rubio!!! 😡😡😡😡😡

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  • Gail
    07/20/2017
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    Just as the EPA has successfully reduced water and air pollution in a major way, the Endangered Species Act has enabled animals on the brink of extinction to survive and come back. Narrow interests want to once again pollute, destroy and harm the environment, leaving the recurring problems to future generations. We have an infinite ability to respond, so let's act responsibly today toward each other and the environment rather than creating more problems for those who come after us. It seems many House Republicans do not care what havoc they reap on future generations. Witness their position on climate change. Even if we are only one factor in climate change, why would we not want to do everything in our power to reduce that influence? The answer: meeting immediate self interest always trumps the greater needs of the many. This outlook is not held by the majority of the world's people, contrary to how it looks. Most people respond to the hardships of others with generosity and compassion. Most people of the world understand that we are interdependent and that "every man for himself" is an outdated and self serving philosophy followed by the fearful, the selfish and the closed-hearted. We need new leadership. People who have modern minds, open hearts, and a vision for the Earth to collaborate with other world leaders and champion the movement that is taking place in the hearts and minds of the average person around the world. There is an awakening going on and it seems the last to realize it are the members of the Republican Party. Wake up. The force of this movement cannot be stopped and you are wasting our time with your small minded bills and constant lying. There is a world ecosystem, forever entwined, one matrix of life. You cannot act in the world without affecting others and the environment. Everything is composed of the same fundamental subatomic particles. Let's enjoy the wonder of that and align ourselves with nature and the greater reality. Look up and out and then look inwardly, long and persistently and realize your small minded efforts are like trying to empty the oceans with a teaspoon. Join the flow and release your addiction to resisting the truth of our interdependence with your myth that it is possible to deny the oneness of all life. I remember the plight of the eagles. I recall rivers on fire and many toxic waste sites making people ill. We need responsible leaders not corporate ass-kissers. I ask my Reps to once again stand up to the buffoonery and do not be dismayed as irresponsible bill after shallow bill passes in the House because it is occupied by so many non-representatives. You are on the right side of history and I thank you.

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  • Scotty
    07/20/2017
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    Donald Trump is doing everything he can to increase global warming and destroy our natural environment. I have an idea. Let's make EARTH great again!

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  • Regina
    07/20/2017
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    Unless you are going to strengthen the EPA and the Endangered Species Act, leave it the HELL alone. Your greed does NOT justify destroying a species life and existence. If you claim to be a Christian then remember that GOD made the species, told you to be a caretaker, NOT to destroy or eliminate. But don't worry, your actions will guarantee you an afterlife somewhere very warm.

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  • John
    07/20/2017
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    No rolling back regulations here. No good reason for this. Republicans and Trump are real big on symbols like the bald eagle.This one would be gone without regulation. Same with the bison. Oil companies and other extraction industries make enough money. They can tolerate the regulations. So can we.

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  • Simone
    07/20/2017
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    Please do not allow this to happen.

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  • singinghawk926
    07/20/2017
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    Absolutely not! Our government at the present time is under the control of corporate interests. Modifying endangered species lists should be left to those whose knowledge and experience warrants such trust. Corporate interests are only on the bottom line, not on what is right and good for living things!

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  • Deborah
    07/20/2017
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    Tired of republicans undoing all the good we've fought for! Please protect the ESA it's fundamentally important or our ecosystem and our environment will suffer ! There is no problems with building as they say there is ! It's a rush job to build! They should have to follow EPA guidelines to make sure water soil or ecosystems are protected! There has to be accountability and protection! We can't undo ESA or EPA they're both equally important!

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  • Linda111
    07/20/2017
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    The ESA has done more to protect the loss of animals than any other law. Now that we are seeing success, KEEP IT STRONG. The current administration appears hellbent on destroying our country, ruining the environment, killing off animals that keep the ecosystems thriving, and in general making the United States the laughing stock of the world.

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  • Ben
    07/20/2017
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    Good gracious!! What is wrong with you all up there?! Leave this and the EPA alone. I volunteer at a local humane society and find the thought of this even being considered horrifying. Endangered animals, the environment and healthcare are issues of humanity NOT partisanship.

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  • Joanne
    07/20/2017
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    The Endangered Species Act is the only voice that the animals on the brink of extinction who share this planet with us have now. Would Republicans really want to live in a country where the bald eagle was allowed to go extinct knowing they could have been saved. This bird is our national symbol of hope for a future better than the present. And it would be gone if not for the ESA.Please do not allow the ESA to go extinct.

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  • Karen
    07/20/2017
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    No, No, No, No!!

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  • NorthTexas
    07/20/2017
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    What kind of world are you trying to leave behind. We need to protect the earth and all the animals on it. I'm sorry but sometimes people don't come first. We are killing off species of animals before we fully know about them. Stop coddling big business and protect the earth. I do not support removing protections for endangered species.

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  • Elizabeth
    07/20/2017
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    Leave the ESA alone.

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  • Alex
    07/20/2017
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    This country is going nuts. Making money on the life of an animal that is not produced for food (have my reservation about this too) is crazy. Animal mills are still seen by the USDA as a legit way to make money. After WW2, puppy mills were all the rage to create supplmental income. Shameful, that they still exist today.

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  • Michelle
    07/20/2017
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    The breakdown of environmental protections being passed under this administration are appalling and unacceptable. This is on your watch. Do not do this.

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  • Noelle
    07/20/2017
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    Do NOT weaken or remove the ESA's protection of animals!

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  • PLD
    07/20/2017
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    Please, please, please do not back down on our obligation to the earth and the environment by failing to further our commitments with the endangered species protections. We have an obligation to further generations that go much further than any amount of money!

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  • Patty
    07/20/2017
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    Please protect the endangered species act from partisan predators!

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  • Pru
    07/20/2017
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    Leave endangered species alone!

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