In place of open debate, Congressional Republicans have once again used riders in three must-pass funding and authorization bills to remove protection from endangered species. It adds up to a huge attack on an immensely popular law. From wolves and grizzly bears to monarchs and burying beetles, everyone is at risk.
Wolves could lose protection nationwide. Toxic pesticides could be exempt from environmental review. Threatened wildlife could be forced to wait for lifesaving protection while industry gets the green light to destroy our public lands. And that's just a glimpse of what Congress is trying to get away with.
Avoiding direct conflict with a law supported by about 83 percent of Americans (including a large majority of conservatives), according to an Ohio State University poll, Congress has launched hundreds of backdoor attempts to gut the Endangered Species Act and sidestep the laws that protect our air, water, and public lands. If passed, they would change which species get protected, how critical habitat is chosen, and whether climate change can be considered a factor at all. The sneak attacks include:
National Defense Authorization Act: The act contains provisions that would undermine the Endangered Species Act. They include two provisions that would wrongfully prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the greater sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken for at least 10 years; one that would prematurely remove protection for American burying beetles; and language targeting vulnerable whales, dolphins, and sea turtles, and robbing them of safeguards under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
2018 Farm Bill: Two versions of the bill must be reconciled in conference committee, but under consideration are provisions that attack some of our nation's most iconic species, threaten to pollute our waters, and jeopardize our public lands. If enacted into law, critical safeguards protecting our drinking water and wildlife will be dismantled, as requested by the pesticide lobby.
Fiscal Year 2019 Interior and EPA Appropriations Bill: This bill contains a rider that would prematurely remove protection for gray wolves, both in the Great Lakes region and nationwide. This rider also blocks judicial review, impeding every citizen's right to hold our government accountable when it acts unlawfully. The best way to get a species off the endangered list is to fully fund the implementation of the Endangered Species Act, and allow it to do its job of recovering species. The bill also attacks wildlife refuges, prohibiting the funding of any refuge that limits planting of genetically modified crops. Use of GMOs in our refuges reduces biodiversity and harms native plants and animals.