Thurs – 8/9: Pull up your sleeves, and charge up your phone. The GOP is trying to kill off the Endangered Species Act.

(Graphic from the Center for Biological Diversity’s report on “The Unprecedented Republican Attack on Endangered Species and the Endangered Species Act.” from 2015)

Action #1 – Write comments to protect the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from the GOP’s regulatory attack.

Earlier this week, we published the comments link to stop the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the NOAA Fisheries from gutting the Endangered Species Act (ESA) rules. More information here. Deadline for comments on this piece of regulatory shenanigans is Sept. 24th. Write early, write often.

Now, let’s head on to legislation, where enemies of the Endangered Species Act try to undermine it with the death of a thousand cuts. The damage these guys do in the name of oil, gas and big agriculture will be profound and irreversible.

Action #2 – Protect migratory birds from an expanded hunting season.

In 1918, the United States enacted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to protect migratory birds, which helped restore populations of many birds from near extinction. Nearly 100 years later, our bird populations are being threatened again, from habitat loss, global warming and from really stupid pandering legislation like this:  HR6013/S2942 – “Migratory Bird Framework and Hunting Opportunities for Veterans Act”. This photo-op for right-wing legislators expands the hunting season and the stress on migratory bird populations, under the guise of providing “special” days for youths, veterans and military personnel, who are perfectly capable of hunting during the regular season. No one asked for this.

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep./Sen. [___] to strongly oppose  [Rep.-HR6013/Sen.-S2942} – “Migratory Bird Framework and Hunting Opportunities for Veterans Act”.

More script if you want it: This ridiculous act is an underhanded attempt to dismantle the Endangered Species Act, which I strongly support.

Contact:
Rep. Julia Brownley: email (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Contacts: https://hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com

Action #3 – 3 for 1! Group these anti-ESA bills together into one big “NO”!

Three surreptitious cuts to the Endangered Species act were introduced less than a month ago. Group these together in an email or postcard and tell your rep “NO”. (From “Calvin’s List”)

  1. The STORAGE Act, HR6354, would exempt areas of water infrastructure (reservoirs, dams, etc.) from being required to follow ESA policies.  A gift for corporations and local governments that don’t want to spend the time or money to follow the law. 
  2. The PETITION Act, HR6355, is even bolder, allowing listing deadlines to be ignored if a ‘backlog’ is declared (meaning species may go extinct waiting for review) and aims to again cut out crucial judicial review of decisions with the excuse that it will expedite petitions.      
  3. HR6345 – the EMPOWERS Act,aims to weaken the ESA by allowing states and county governments to put the kibosh on ESA petitions before they even get to the federal government.  It’s absurd, as no county or state politician is going to agree to something that could lead to increased costs and effort to protect something “unpopular” like a plant or amphibian. A big city, county, and state thumbs down for this bill.

Minimal Script: I’m calling/writing from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to oppose HR6354 – the STORAGE Act, HR6355 – the PETITION Act and HR6345 –  the EMPOWERS Act, all of which pose a threat to the Endangered Species Act, which I strongly support.

Contact:
Rep. Julia Brownley: email (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Other Contacts: https://hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com

Action #4 – Pace yourself. Take a couple of days to work your way through these.

The GOP created a huge backlog of these bills on purpose to confuse us and to discourage us from taking action. But we are NOT confused, nor discouraged. Once our people know what to do, we are an inexorable force. Just make sure your legislator has a record, either a phone call or an email, that you support the ESA and these bills cannot be passed.

  • H.R. 717Listing Reform Act (hcn). How much is biodiversity worth? This act would require review of the economic cost of adding a species to the list of endangered species or threatened species.
  • H.R.1274 State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act (hcn). The bill requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to use data submitted by a state, county, or tribal government when deciding whether or not a species is endangered or threatened. However, the ESA currently requires that listing decisions should be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available” – not all the data, which may be economically prejudiced or unscientifically attained.
  • H.R.3131Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act (hcn) This bill will make it difficult for citizens who bring suits to protect ESA laws to recover attorneys’ fees, even if they win their cases.
  • H.R.424Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2017 (hcn) This bill, brought by Collin C. Peterson (MN-D), who should be ashamed of himself, would block lawsuits to reinstate federal protection of gray wolves, no matter how their new hunting season could effect the recently-delisted population. This bill shifts management of endangered species from the ESA to states, where politics are more important than science.
  • H.R. 2603Saving America’s Endangered Species Act (SAVES Act). (hcn) This imaginatively-named bill wants to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide that nonnative species in the United States shall not be treated as endangered species or threatened species for purposes of that Act. Currently, the Fish and Wildlife Service and regulate the movement and health of exotic animals, and prevents abusive animal trafficking operations.
  • H.R.1654Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act (Passed House) (This bill proposes a Lacey Act exemption would mean Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana—in the service of quenching their thirst—would let them legally pass invasive species from one lake or waterway to another, critics sayit would also waive requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act and dramatically limit public input. NEPA is considered a bedrock environmental law and has been called the ‘look before you leap’ provision that projects must undergo. THIS BILL PASSED THE HOUSE. ADDRESS YOUR REMARK TO YOUR SENATORS.
  • H.R.1873Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act. (This bill, in the name of reducing wildfires, would allow states and localities to dictate how federal lands are managed) THIS BILL PASSED THE HOUSE. ADDRESS YOUR REMARK TO YOUR SENATORS.
  • H.R.3916FISH Act. This bill would turn over, without additional funding, the management of migratory salmon and similar species to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which already has a backlog of candidate endangered species that it lacks time or funds to list, or manage. (hcn)
  • H.R. 200The Strengthening Fishing Communities Act.  According to the Marine Fish Conservation Network, it is yet another bill designed to remove science-based conservation practicesTHIS BILL PASSED THE HOUSE. ADDRESS YOUR REMARK TO YOUR SENATORS.

(Environmental experts! If we’ve missed bills that should be on this list, send information to indivisibleventura@gmail.com)

Minimal Script: I’m calling/writing from [zip code] and I want Rep./Sen. [___] to oppose HR___ – the “____” Act.

Repeat.

Contact:
Rep. Julia Brownley: email (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Contacts: https://hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com

Background

May 18th was Endangered Species Day, which is still being “celebrated” by the administration. That day, nearly 1500 American scientists sent a great letter to Congress demanding that they “protect the scientific foundation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and reject any attempts to weaken or compromise the role of science in protecting species.” They emphasized the critical role of biological diversity in ecosystems and that science, not economic interests, should be central in the discussion of protecting the environment. The letter outlines five principles these scientists consider essential pieces of the ESA:

  • Science is at the heart of preventing extinction;
  • Science should be insulated from political interference;
  • Protecting biodiversity is our responsibility;
  • Scientists, wildlife officials, and local communities work together; and
  • Endangered Species Act is a critical backstop.

The enemies of the Endangered Species Act have been working to destroy it since at least 1996. Who are they? They are mostly old white guys like Rep. Rob Bishop. In fact, through 2015, just five GOP legislators with special interest ties to oil, gas and big agriculture have sponsored 25% of the attacks on the ESA. These are people who won’t be around to explain to their great-grandchildren the role they had in helping to wipe out the animals the kids will only see in picture books for the price of an oil drilling contract, a forest reduced to lumber or another pasture for cattle.

One of their weapons are riders (non-germane amendments) on must-pass spending or defense bills, which have successfully removed or reduced protections for the gray wolf, lesser prairie chicken, sage grouse, several African “trophy animals,” and more. The version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), HR5515, that passed in the House included attacks on both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Fortunately, these anti-ESA riders were stripped from the final language when House and Senate lawmakers worked together.

Their other favorite weapon is creating a blizzard of legislation that erodes essential protections for animals and their habitats in myriad ways. According to EcoWatch, “…more than 75 legislative attacks have been launched against the Endangered Species Act since Trump took office—and more than 300 since 2011, when Republicans took over the U.S. House of Representatives.” These bills include provisions that would make it next to  impossible for imperiled species to gain protection, give states that oppose endangered species protection veto power over those decisions and would turn over recovery efforts to states that often lack the funding or regulatory structure to ensure species’ survival, let alone recovery.

The Trump administration is also attacking the ESA, most importantly with it’s racist-pandering border wall proposal, which will destroy at least 50 species and an entire ecosystem, including apex hunters like the jaguar.

The administration has also slashed funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service in general, which undercuts resources available to protect endangered species (more than 500 species of which are waiting for a protection determination and are at risk of extinction in the meantime). It has also elevated anti-ESA foes into positions of power, such as Greg Sheehan of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Susan Combs, acting Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and, of course, our Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.

The Endangered Species Act is one of the most popular pieces of legislation ever. A poll in 2015 found that 90% of American voters support it. Nobody, and no political party had a mandate to destroy it. When we close the door on the GOP and look at the damage they left behind, people will wonder how it was all allowed to happen.

An overwhelming majority of Americans continue to support the goals of this vital law. This Congress is obviously listening to Big Oil and other special interests—not the American public—in its mad dash to deny protections for endangered species.”Trip Van Noppen ,President, Earthjustice

Reading:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s