The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Liz Judge, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500 ext. 237, cell (970) 710-9002,

House Votes to Save Endangered Species Act

Most sweeping attack on endangered and imperiled species in recent history fails


An effort to guard our nation's endangered and imperiled species, and to protect our cornerstone Endangered Species Act, has passed in the House of Representatives today.

The House majority today voted to block the extreme "Extinction Rider" in its spending bill, H.R.2584. This Extinction Rider provision would have created a one-way ratchet towards species extinction by blocking new species listings and other critical components of the Endangered Species Act.

A bipartisan amendment to protect the Endangered Species Act and strike this destructive and dangerous "Extinction Rider" from the House spending bill was offered by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI). It passed this afternoon on a vote of 224-202.

Specifically, the Extinction Rider would have prevented the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from spending any money to: list any new species under the Act despite a backlog of more than 260 species that desperately need protection; designate habitat that is critical to imperiled species' survival; upgrade the status of any species from threatened to endangered; and assist law enforcement by protecting species that resemble listed species. By no accident this rider would have still allowed use of funds to decrease protections for listed species.

The following is a statement by Marjorie Mulhall, associate legislative counsel of Earthjustice:

"It is a huge relief that our elected representatives today recognized this fact: America is a capable enough country to grow its economy while preserving its precious wildlife and unique natural heritage. The majority's vote today affirms that we absolutely don't have to let our imperiled species die off in order to balance our budget. Anyone who says otherwise, deeply underestimates our nation.

"We commend Reps. Dicks, Fitzpatrick, Thompson, and Hanabusa for their successful bipartisan effort to save hundreds of species that are in desperate need of protection -- and that ought to be protected under the 38-year-old Endangered Species Act.

"We averted one disaster today, but we are still faced with many more in this House spending bill, which must be opposed. The Extinction Rider was indicative of the kind of extreme and devastating measures that comprise this bill.

"In the debate and vote on the bipartisan Dicks-Fitzpatrick-Thompson-Hanabusa Amendment, we saw leaders from both parties decry the Extinction Rider and oppose it. We're grateful to them for their efforts, and we hope that even more members of Congress follow today's lead and stand up for America's wildlife and environment."
Other Endangered Species Attacks To Watch For in H.R. 2584:

* Anti-Wildlife, Pro-Poisons Rider - (section 447) This amendment prohibits the EPA from implementing any measures recommended by federal wildlife experts to protect salmon and other endangered species from pesticides.

* Shielding Gray Wolf Delistings from Judicial Review - (section 119) This provision exempts from judicial review any final rule that delists gray wolves in Wyoming and any states within the range of the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves, provided that FWS has entered into an agreement with the state for it to manage wolves. The provision undercuts one of the most important checks and balances built into the ESA - public participation through the ability of citizens to request judicial review of delistings.
* For more information on the riders included within the base H.R. 2584 bill, click here. Visit this page for updated information on new amendments introduced each day of debate.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.