House Republicans Hold Anti-Endangered Species Hearing on Bills to Weaken Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121

House Republicans Hold Anti-Endangered Species Hearing on Bills to Weaken Endangered Species Act

Witnesses Cherry-picked for Hostility to Wildlife Protection

WASHINGTON - House Republicans will hold a hearing Tuesday on four bills that would divert funding from protecting species and discourage citizens from helping enforce the United States’ landmark law for protecting endangered wildlife. The four bills would weaken the Endangered Species Act’s effectiveness and redirect scarce agency resources from species recovery to pointless reporting requirements. To create a facade of support, Rep. Doc Hastings, the Washington Republican who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, has invited several witnesses with a long history of outright hostility to endangered species and the Endangered Species Act itself.

“There isn’t a single provision — or even single word — in any of these bills that would help any species anywhere in the country move toward recovery,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protecting species has never been of genuine interest to Doc Hastings or to the witnesses who will heap praise on these ludicrous Tea Party bills. No one should be fooled by their calls for ‘reform,’ because all they want to do is weaken the Endangered Species Act and restrict the right of the American public to make sure it’s enforced.”

The Republican witnesses for this hearing have made a consistent practice of attacking the Act, as follows:

  • Dr. Rob Roy Ramey II relied on genetic samples that showed evidence of contamination to determine that the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse was not a separate species — a decision that incorrectly led to a proposal to remove the species from the list of endangered species until an independent peer-review panel of genetics experts determined that “no reliable evidence” supported Ramey’s analysis. Ramey was also hired by former Bush administration Deputy Interior Secretary Julie MacDonald, who herself resigned under a cloud of controversy, to write a report that concluded that the Gunnison’s sage grouse was not a separate species that could be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The subsequent 2006 decision not to protect the sage grouse was one of 20 decisions investigated in a 2008 Inspector General report on the influence of political considerations on species listings; the increasingly rare bird is now proposed for endangered species protections.
  • Karen Budd-Falen has been vocal in her opposition to the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and believes that most management of public lands is nothing more than “bullying” to achieve a “cleansing” of rural America. Budd-Falen represents the extreme far-right wing of the Republican Party and has spoken in support of controversial groups such as the “constitutional sheriffs” who refuse to enforce federal laws they believe do not comport with the U.S. Constitution.
  • Kent Holsinger is an attorney who represents private industry in cases involving environmental law issues. In a February 2014 news article in Net Right Daily, Holsinger said “If, while hunting for dinner, you instead find an endangered species — the half-jest, half-serious advice would be ‘shoot, shovel and shut up.’”  

“It’s clear that Doc Hastings is much more interested in pandering to the most extreme, lunatic fringe of the Tea Party than actually finding ways of strengthening the Endangered Species Act,” said Hartl. “Tomorrow will be just another dog-and-pony show, not a meaningful discussion on how to put more species on a path to recovery.”

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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