Republicans Renew Attack on Endangered Species Act
WildEarth Guardians will Defend Bedrock Environmental Law at Congressional Hearing
WildEarth Guardians will testify at a
hearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in
defense of the Endangered Species Act today. Republicans, led by Chairman Doc
Hastings (R-WA-4th), have sought to weaken the law for years. Jay
Tutchton, General Counsel for WildEarth Guardians, will testify to the
importance of the Endangered Species Act to prevent species extinction.
“The Endangered Species Act has prevented
more than 99 percent of listed species from becoming extinct,” said Tutchton. “We
are unaware of any other federal law that works so well.”
Of the 1,445 domestic species ever
added to the “threatened” and “endangered” species list, only two have become
extinct while listed.
The American public overwhelmingly
supports protection for imperiled species, with 84 percent of Americans polled
registering support for the Endangered Species Act. In addition, 92 percent
agree that decisions about wildlife management and which animals need
protection should be made by scientists, not politicians. Furthermore, 90
percent believe that the act has helped hundreds of species recover from the
brink of extinction, and 87 percent say the Endangered Species Act is a
successful safety net for protecting wildlife and plants from extinction.
Even a majority of Republicans support
“Species conservation is a core
American value,” said Tutchton. “It is unclear who Republican committee members
purport to represent on this issue, besides special interests.”
Historic Settlement Agreement Advances
Protection for Hundreds of Imperiled Species
The hearing was prompted in part by WildEarth Guardians’ historic settlement agreement with the
Fish and Wildlife Service, announced on May 10, 2011, and approved by a federal court on September 9, 2011.
The agreement obligates the agency to make final listing determinations for 253
species by September 2016, all but one of which are formal candidates for ESA
protection. The settlement resolved 12 lawsuits that Guardians filed
challenging the government’s failure to timely list species under the act, and
attempts to fix a listing program that has failed to function properly since
the Reagan Administration. It also schedules petition findings, 12-month
listing determinations, and critical habitat designations for more than 600
additional species. In return, WildEarth Guardians consented to dismiss its
lawsuits and will refrain from suing Interior over missed listing deadlines for
the next six years. The Service met all of its obligations under the agreement
for FY 2011, taking action on 730 species.