Mon – 8/6: How much is our wildlife worth? The GOP is willing to liquidate our natural heritage for cash. WRITE! Deadline Sept. 24th.

(Quote by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), the Natural Resources Committee’s top Democrat)

Action – Protect the Endangered Species Act by speaking out.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries has been forced by law to seek public input on proposed reforms to “Improve & Modernize Implementation of the Endangered Species Act”. So, let’s blow them out of the oil-polluted water in which they swim. Deadline is September 24th, so comment early and often. This is how to do it…

  • Comment here. So far, they have only 163 comments.
  • Read the proposed regulation documents here.
  • Read other people’s comments for inspiration here and Indivisible East Bay has created some great background materials we’ve put in the “Comment” section below. Try to alter comments to sound like your own voice. They don’t have to be long.

Be ready – we’re doing related bills tomorrow!

Background

The Endangered Species Act has provided needed protections to wildlife in danger for well over 40 years, preventing the extinction of 99% of listed species. It has always been and continues to be overwhelming popular with the public.

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These animals might not be here without it, (CNN), along with the American alligator, the grizzly bear, the American peregrine falcon, the humpback whale, the green sea turtle, and the California condor. Scores of less photogenic but no less critical links to a complete and functioning ecosystem have been protected as well.

The Endangered Species Act has protected our environment by blocking or limiting coal mines, development, and oil and gas drilling in sensitive areas. In a recent press release, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Brett Hartl stated: “These proposals would slam a wrecking ball into the most crucial protections for our most endangered wildlife. If these regulations had been in place in the 1970s, the bald eagle and the gray whale would be extinct today. If they’re finalized now, [Interior Secretary Ryan] Zinke will go down in history as the extinction secretary.

However, now, as a gift to oil, gas and mining interests who want access to our protected habitats, the Trump administration is proposing gutting regulatory protections for threatened wildlife and drastically reducing the role of science from future decision making.  Among the proposed changes announced by the Greg Sheehan, the US Fish and Wildlife Service principle director and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Thursday is allowing officials to consider economic impact when enforcing the ESA.

We propose to remove the phrase, ‘without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination’the proposal states.

Who is this person? Who else is involved in this?

Greg Sheehan is a member of Safari Club International (SCI), an anti-environmental hunting group that has contributed “to the killing of lions, African elephants and other endangered species.” SCI members also dominate the International Wildlife Conservation Council, which just recommended permitting the importation of lion trophies. They are currently being sued as not complying with the rules for balanced representation on government councils.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is being sued by the Ocean Conservancy for failure to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for explaining an action regarding red snapper management that “was a politically motivated action that ignored science, contrary to the law.  Their decision will cause long term damage to the fishermen and communities that depend on this economically and ecologically important fishery. NOAA is withholding documents from the public that they are legally obligated to provide. The American people deserve to know what they’re hiding.”

Susan Combs, selected by Interior Department Ryan Zinke as acting Assisting Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, a dedicated foe of the ESA, has been working on these efforts too. She is a rancher and former Texas comptroller with strong ties to the oil industry. As comptroller, she fought the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service repeatedly over its attempts to enforce the Endangered Species Act in the state. In a 2015 report, the Austin American-Statesman showed how Combs worked to remove endangered protections for a native state songbird, the golden-cheeked warbler, claiming that its listing hurt military readiness. She kept a tiny lizard off the endangered list in 2012, hailing its possible extinction as a victory for state jobs and the national energy economy. She is known best for making the remark that endangered species listing are like “incoming Scud missiles”. Records show that she disagreed with “nearly every listing proposal from Washington,” questioning the science, estimates of their economic impact and the amount of resident input.

Comment Samples for editing

  • These are terrible ideas and do not represent the interests of the American people or further the purpose of the agency for which the original rules exist. Do NOT implement these changes.
  • The Endangered Species Act, passed in 1973, is an incredibly popular law, credited with bringing species like the bald eagle, grizzly bear, and humpback whale back from the brink of extinction. It is also an important tool in the fight to protect our environment, useful for blocking or limiting coal mines, development, and oil and gas drilling. Even with the ESA in full force, however, there are indications that as many as one-third of America’s species are vulnerable, with one in five imperiled and at high risk of extinction.
  • This crisis extends well beyond species officially listed as endangered, and now includes many garden variety creatures from monarch butterflies to songbirds. Experts note that some 12,000 species across the country are “in need of conservation action.” Habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, disease, and chemical pollution are the leading wildlife threats. Climate change amplifies these threats. Changing climate and precipitation patterns will create new and increased risks of drought and flooding as sea level rise creeps up the coastlines. The effects on individual species remain mostly unknown, but are likely to ripple throughout ecosystems.
  • Now, with our wild places in decline, is not the time to start weighing the economic costs of development against the implementation of the Endangered Species Act. Nor do we have time to let threatened species become endangered before we move to act on their behalf. Reject these provisions whose only intent is to hobble the Endangered Species Act. We need an ESA acting in full force working to preserve our endangered wilderness, and the species with whom we share the planet.
  • The Endangered Species Act is one of the most effective conservation laws in the United States. Since its passage 40 years ago, 99% of listed species have been saved from extinction, including iconic species such as the bald eagle. The law is also widely popular; polling shows that 90% of voters across the political spectrum support the law. The proposed changes to the statute will weaken the law and put thousands of plant and animal species at risk. Proposed changes will allow federal agencies to not acknowledge the broad consequences of their actions through changes to the consultation requirements of Section 7 of the Act. Section 7 consultations require that a federal agency that is funding, authorizing or conducting an activity must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure that the activity does not jeopardize the existence of endangered or threatened species or destroy their critical habitat. The proposed changes will reduce the effects of agency actions required to undergo consultations. For example, the proposed rule seeks comment on changes that would stop consultation for effects like climate change that are manifested through global processes. The changes proposed will also make it harder to protect critical habitat that is being impacted by development. The protection of even extremely small sections of habitat is crucial for species conservation. If the mechanisms for enforcement of the protection of endangered and threatened species and their critical habitats are weakened, species will be put at greater risk. I urge you not to move forward these proposed changes and leave the regulations to one of our most effective and popular conservation laws untouched. Please withdraw the proposed changes section 7 (Interagency Cooperation) rule.
  • The changes proposed to the language of section 7 will make it harder to protect critical habitat that is being impacted by development. The protection of even extremely small sections of habitat is crucial for species conservation. If the mechanisms for enforcement of the protection of critical habitats are weakened, species will be put at greater risk. I urge you not to move forward these proposed changes and leave the regulations to one of our most effective and popular conservation laws untouched. Please withdraw the proposed changes section 7 (Interagency Cooperation) rule. CFR Citation: 50 CFR

Reading:

  • Trump Administration wants to change key parts of the Endangered Species Act. (CNN)
  • These six species are about to be sacrificed for the oil and gas industry. (guardian)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “Endangered Species Act – Special Rules” (US Fish & Wildlife Service)
  • These creatures faced extinction. The endangered Species Act saved them. (wapo)
  • How the Trump administration wants to weaken the Endangered Species Act. (Vox)
  • GOP scrambles to reform Endangered Species Act before midterms. (theHill)
  • Wildlife Opponent (Susan Combs) appointed seat as Director of wildlife policy. (Sierra Club)
  • WH reviewing proposal that would roll back protections for threatened species (CNN)

2 thoughts on “Mon – 8/6: How much is our wildlife worth? The GOP is willing to liquidate our natural heritage for cash. WRITE! Deadline Sept. 24th.

  1. Please leave our precious lands and waters alone. They are God given and should be preserved for future generations.It is the American Way!!!

    Like

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