Grijalva, Conservation Leaders Call on GOP to Drop “Obsessive” Attacks on Endangered Species Act Ahead of Wednesday Markup

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of a Wednesday markup at 10:00 a.m. featuring five bad bills weakening the Endangered Species Act (ESA), among other measures under consideration, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and national conservation leaders called on Republicans to drop their constant attacks on the law and attend to more pressing business, including the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico and the need to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Despite now having more than 200 bipartisan cosponsors, Grijalva’s bill to reauthorize the program has not been given a hearing by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah).

“Republicans have a strange, obsessive need to attack the Endangered Species Act every few weeks even though they never identify a problem they’re actually trying to solve,” Grijalva said. “This markup is just as bad a waste of this committee’s time as the SHARE Act, an embarrassing gun lobby giveaway that even Speaker Ryan won’t bring up for a vote. We could be spending this markup addressing climate change, responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico or reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which no one outside Republican leadership opposes. Instead we’re voting on bills that make it harder to protect listed species, harder to list species as endangered and harder for the public to sue federal agencies that fail to enforce the law.”

“Today’s markup continues a longstanding effort by some in Congress to gut and repeal our nation’s most effective law in protecting endangered species from extinction,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “This legislation does nothing to improve the Endangered Species Act, only slash away at its ability to save species and their habitat. Each of these bills will have devastating effects on the law that has helped us to save gray wolves, Florida manatees, California condors, loggerhead sea turtles and hundreds of other species of endangered wildlife. With the current extinction crisis faced by our planet, we need a strong and intact Endangered Species Act.  It is a shameful move, and we urge every thoughtful member of this committee to vote against these bills.”

“This slate of horrible bills would upend decades of wildlife protection practices by prioritizing politics over science, and private profit over the public interest,” said Ana Unruh Cohen, director of government affairs for NRDC. “These bills would not only strip scientific integrity from wildlife protection; they would degrade and diminish democracy by taking away fundamental rights under the law. NRDC will fight any efforts to undermine democracy and scientific integrity in lawmaking.”

In addition to the ESA bills, Grijalva opposes Rep. Don Young’s (R-Alaska) H.R. 210, which weakens environmental standards on Native American land in the name of increasing energy investments.

The ESA bills are:

  • H.R. 424 (Rep. Collin Peterson), which delists gray wolves across the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming.
  • H.R. 717 (Rep. Pete Olson), which adds unnecessary hurdles and delays to the process of federally listing an endangered species.
  • H.R. 1274 (Rep. Dan Newhouse), which directs federal agencies to consider state, county or tribal data the “best” available in making listing decisions, even if better scientific data from other sources exists. The ESA mandates that the “best” scientific data be used in making listing decisions – a term Republicans now want to manipulate.
  • H.R. 2603 (Rep. Louie Gohmert), which makes it impossible to list “non-native” species as endangered regardless of the species’ health.
  • H.R. 3131 (Rep. Bill Huizenga), which drastically restricts the public’s ability to recover legal costs when bringing ESA suits against federal agencies.

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