Repub­li­cans At­tack En­dan­gered Species in Fund­ing Bill

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On be­half of their cor­po­rate masters, Se­nate Repub­li­cans at­tacked the gray wolf, lesser prairie chicken and the En­dan­gered Species Act by at­tach­ing more than a dozen poi­son-pill rid­ers to leg­is­la­tion to fund the Depart­ment of the In­te­rior for 2018.

The rid­ers in­tro­duced by Sen­a­tor Thad Cochran (R-miss.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowsi (R-alaska) in­clude a pro­vi­sion that would end pro­tec­tions for gray wolves in the west­ern Great Lakes states de­spite two court de­ci­sions up­hold­ing pro­tec­tions for this en­dan­gered species. The leg­is­la­tion would also pro­hibit the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice from tak­ing any ac­tion to save the lesser prairie chicken from ex­tinc­tion.

“Se­nate Repub­li­cans just launched a dis­gust­ing sneak at­tack on Amer­ica’s most im­per­iled wildlife,” said Brett Hartl, gov­ern­ment af­fairs di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity. “This leg­is­la­tion is deeply out of touch with the Amer­i­can peo­ple, who over­whelm­ingly sup­port en­dan­gered wildlife. The Repub­li­can rid­ers are a cyn­i­cal ef­fort to ad­vance spe­cial in­ter­ests at the ex­pense of an­i­mals on the brink of ex­tinc­tion.”

The leg­is­la­tion also seeks to weaken the con­sul­ta­tion process on For­est Ser­vice lands by elim­i­nat­ing a long-stand­ing re­quire­ment to con­sider how to min­i­mize harms to newly listed species and their crit­i­cal habi­tat on those lands. Un­der the leg­is­la­tion, the For­est Ser­vice would only have to con­sult when it writes or revises its land man­age­ment plans — ac­tions that oc­cur only once ev­ery few decades.

“Sen­a­tor Murkowski seems happy to let wildlife go ex­tinct if it helps the tim­ber in­dus­try or other pol­luters make more prof­its on our pub­lic lands. This bill should be re­jected as the trav­esty it is,” said Hartl.

Since Jan­uary Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans have in­tro­duced at least 60 at­tacks against the En­dan­gered Species Act or par­tic­u­lar en­dan­gered species. Since the Repub­li­can takeover of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2011, more than 325 at­tacks have been launched. These at­tacks con­tinue de­spite the fact that nine out of 10 Amer­i­cans sup­port the En­dan­gered Species Act and want it ei­ther strength­ened or left un­changed by Congress, ac­cord­ing to a 2015 poll.

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