Wy­oming Gover­nor Matt Mead Wants En­dan­gered Species Ex­tinct

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Wy­oming Gover­nor Matt Mead doesn't like en­dan­gered species or the En­dan­gered Species Act that pro­tects them. He likes big ugly coal mines that pol­lute his state and the planet and the big cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions that come with them.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the Act is "not good in­dus­try, it’s not good for busi­ness and, quite frankly, it’s not good for the species.” He added that Wy­oming “can’t be a zoo for en­dan­gered species” and that the Act is not just bad for Wy­oming, but for the coun­try.

Mead’s lu­natic re­marks came dur­ing a speech to the Wy­oming Min­ing As­so­ci­a­tion on Fri­day, June 16th in Sheri­dan, Wy­oming.

“Gover­nor Mead can’t be more wrong,” said Brett Hartl, govern­ment af­fairs di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity. “In pro­tect­ing species from wolves to griz­zly bears to the tiny Wy­oming toad, the En­dan­gered Species Act has been a re­sound­ing suc­cess at pre­vent­ing the ex­tinc­tion of our coun­try’s wildlife. Gover­nor Mead’s state­ments show that rather than seek­ing to ‘mod­ern­ize’ the En­dan­gered Species Act as he claims, the goal is to re­peal or se­verely ham­string it to ben­e­fit his cam­paign con­trib­u­tors in the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try.”

Mead’s re­marks come on the heels of a state­ment by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-utah) in De­cem­ber that he “would be happy to in­val­i­date the En­dan­gered Species Act.” Rather than in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion to re­peal the En­dan­gered Species Act, Bishop and other con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Sen. John Bar­rasso (R-wyo.), have called for the Act to be “mod­ern­ized.” How­ever, dur­ing the cur­rent Con­gress, Repub­li­cans have launched 30 at­tacks on the Act, none of which would im­prove the con­ser­va­tion or re­cov­ery of pro­tected wildlife. Since Repub­li­cans re­took the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2011, more than 258 at­tacks against the Act have been in­tro­duced in Con­gress.

Changes to the En­dan­gered Species Act are not widely sup­ported by the pub­lic. A 2015 poll found that 90% of the pub­lic sup­ports the Act. More than 70% be­lieve that de­ci­sions about en­dan­gered species should be based on sci­ence — and made by the ex­perts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, not by politi­cians.

In or­der to build po­lit­i­cal sup­port for weak­en­ing the En­dan­gered Species Act, Mead es­tab­lished his so­called “Species Con­ser­va­tion and En­dan­gered Species Act Ini­tia­tive” in 2015 while he served as the chair of the West­ern Gov­er­nors’ As­so­ci­a­tion. In 2016 the as­so­ci­a­tion ap­proved a pol­icy res­o­lu­tion to sub­stan­tially weaken the En­dan­gered Species Act.

“Gover­nor Mead knows that gut­ting the En­dan­gered Species Act would be deeply un­pop­u­lar and out of touch with the val­ues of nearly all Amer­i­cans,” said Hartl. “As a re­sult, he has pushed this sham process through the West­ern Gov­er­nors’ As­so­ci­a­tion to try to cre­ate a false sense of sup­port for his at­tack on the En­dan­gered Species Act.”

In Fe­bru­ary more than 280 en­vi­ron­men­tal, an­i­mal-pro­tec­tion, faith-based, out­door-recre­ational and so­cial-jus­tice groups sent a let­ter to the Na­tional Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion op­pos­ing Mead’s ef­forts at the West­ern Gov­er­nors’ As­so­ci­a­tion to weaken the En­dan­gered Species Act.

Photo by Jeremy Buck­ing­ham, CC

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