Quantcast
Popular
Orcas have been listed as endangered species in both the U.S. and Canada. Miles Ritter / Flickr

Endangered Species Act Protections in House Committee Crosshairs

One of our nation's core environmental safeguards is at risk of being hollowed out, as the House Natural Resources Committee takes up legislation Wednesday to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Starting at 11 a.m. ET, the committee is voting on five bills that aim to weaken a variety of protections offered by the flagship conservation law. A detailed description of each proposal is included in this letter of opposition.


With this committee markup, the Endangered Species Act faces possible erosion in a variety of ways. For example, the law currently uses best-available science as the basis for protecting species under the act. Yet the proposed "Listing Reform Act" (H.R. 717) would subvert this foundational, science-based premise, enabling federal agencies to deny protections based on economic impacts.

Similarly, the "Gray Wolf State Management Act" (H.R. 424)—dubbed the "War on Wolves Act" by opponents—seeks to override a unanimous DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Those upper Midwest wolf populations would be stripped of existing Endangered Species Act protections under this legislation. This bill would also codify a recent DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that stripped federal protections for wolves in Wyoming. It would also prohibit judicial review of both legislative wolf delistings, and thus sets a damaging trend for undermining all laws that allow citizens from across the political spectrum to go to court to hold the government accountable for its actions.

Legislative threats to the Endangered Species Act have spurred widespread social media backlash.

Last week, Hollywood stars Debra Messing, Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Alan Cumming, Lance Bass and others joined the chorus by highlighting the issue of political attacks on the Endangered Species Act in a series of Instagram posts.

"The Endangered Species Act is one of our nation's most effective, popular laws," Marjorie Mulhall, Earthjustice's legislative director for lands, wildlife and oceans, said in a statement.

"These noxious attacks on imperiled wildlife violate the spirit of its enactment, which was to conserve irreplaceable, imperiled species and the ecosystems they depend on. With scientists now warning that we have entered a wave of mass extinctions, federal protections for imperiled plants and wildlife are needed more urgently than ever before. Politicians should be finding ways to strengthen the Endangered Species Act, not render it toothless."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Residents stand in a long queue to fill water containers on May 27 in Shimla, India. Deepak Sansta / Hindustan Times / Getty Images

World Peace Requires Access to Safe Water

International Peace Day is Sept. 21. Mekela Panditharatne, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, submitted the following op-ed to EcoWatch in commemoration.

In drought-ravaged East Africa, the cracks in the plains echo the fault lines splitting tribes.

Across the globe, the devastation of deadly brawls is being exacerbated by tensions over access to water. Water crises, often worsened by governance failures, can portend warning signs for instability and conflict. This year, the World Resources Institute cautioned that water stress is growing globally, "with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040." The effects of such water stress span the gamut from civil unrest to open warfare.

Keep reading... Show less
Food

How Your Personality Type Could Influence Your Food Choices

By Melissa Kravitz

"You are what you eat" may be one of the oldest sayings ever to be repeated around the dinner table, but can you also eat what you are?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A child rides his bicycle in an area affected by the Hurricane Maria passing in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on Oct. 5, 2017. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Hurricane Maria's Legacy: One Year Later

As Puerto Rico marked one year since Hurricane Maria made landfall yesterday, the Miami Herald this week ran extensive reports in English and Spanish on the island's continuing recovery.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
A foldable, biodegradable battery based on paper and bacteria. Seokheun Choi / Binghamton University, CC BY-ND

Could Paper Power the Next Generation of Devices?

By Seokheun Choi

It seems like every few months there's a new cellphone, laptop or tablet that is so exciting people line up around the block to get their hands on it. While the perpetual introduction of new, slightly more advanced electronics has made businesses like Apple hugely successful, the short shelf life of these electronics is bad for the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!