Committee Dems Respond to Report that Threatens Fishermen, Declares Open Season on Marine Mammals and Endangered Species

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Committee Democrats today slammed a new Department of Commerce report issued under Executive Order 13783, which recommends unsupportable and dangerous changes to the way we manage our oceans. Among other moves, the report calls for weakening already inadequate consultation requirements for Essential Fish Habitat under the Magnuson-Stevens Act; requiring expensive and time-consuming cost-benefit analyses that would bias federal agencies against creation of new National Marine Sanctuaries; waiving the National Environmental Protection Act and amending the Marine Mammal Protection Act to clear the way for offshore drilling; and invoking a so-called “God Squad” to speed the extinction of species protected by the Endangered Species Act.

“Yet again the Trump administration is trying to gut our nation’s most important environmental laws so the rich can get richer,” Grijalva said. “Giving away our public lands isn’t enough – now they’re giving our oceans to big oil too. The American people won’t stand for this, especially if they’re shut out of the planning process. They know there is no chance a Trump administration Endangered Species Committee will make decisions in the public interest.”

“Marine sanctuaries protect our nation’s most important ocean and great lakes resources,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. “It seems like the administration has forgotten that sanctuaries are designated because local communities want them. Sanctuaries benefit economies and ensure sustainable use for future generations. Seismic air gun blasting is highly damaging to marine mammals, fish, and even the microscopic plankton that the entire marine ecosystem depends on. We already know that the costs aren’t worth the risks. It is senseless to threaten our most important ecosystems and the livelihoods of fishermen when the oil and gas industry is already hoarding unused permits.”

“The Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act work,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). “The only improvement that is needed is adequate funding so agencies can do their jobs. The facts show that protecting our wildlife and wild places does not threaten economic growth: we’ve prevented 99 percent of listed species from going extinct since the law was passed and the U.S. economy has tripled in size since then. I couldn’t imagine our landscape without bald eagles or coasts without grey whales, and we should ensure that no one has to.” 

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