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To: U.S. Congress
Tell Congress: Oppose Doc Hastings' Plan to Weaken the Endangered Species Act
Congressman Doc Hastings, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, has been after the Endangered Species Act for years. Now he has introduced four bills to weaken the Endangered Species Act, putting the hundreds of animals and plants who rely on it for protection in peril. Congress should reject each of these four bad bills.
Why is this important?
For the past 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has had a 99% success rate of saving animals and plants from the brink of extinction. Species like whooping cranes, black-footed ferrets, and grizzly bears that were once nearly gone have been brought back thanks to its lifesaving protections. But it is facing a monumental threat. Because of the strength of the Endangered Species Act, wildlife opponents have been on a tear to try to destroy it.
Congressman Doc Hastings has made no secret of his distaste for the Endangered Species Act. He’s held hearings, issued a report, and even created a completely partisan Congressional “working group”—consisting entirely of wildlife opponents—to strategize on how to weaken the Endangered Species Act.
Since Americans are unequivocal about our support for the Endangered Species Act, Congressman Hastings knows that he can only destroy it if he goes after it piece by piece—the goal of these four bills. The current bills put wildlife in danger of poachers, make a mockery of science, reduce citizens’ abilities to enforce the Act, and place burdensome requirements on the Department of Interior—all classic Hastings tactics to try to weaken the effectiveness of the Act. For instance, in early 2014, Secretary Jewell wrote Congressman Hastings that his document requests “appear overly broad” and “have significantly impacted the Department’s ability to accomplish its core mission,” costing American taxpayers $1.5 million in staff hours to fulfill.
One of these bills would mandate that wildlife agencies post the nesting sites of endangered species like sea turtles publicly online. This would be an enormous burden on these agencies, and could lead poachers right to their prey. Another would force federal agencies to consider any materials coming from state or local governments as “best available science,” even if they’re not prepared by scientists. That would dilute the actual science necessary to do things like determine critical habitat for species.
These corrosions in wildlife protections, and other give-aways to Doc Hastings's special interest buddies in this series of bills, would make the work of protecting our nation's wildlife unnecessarily slow, unreliable, and difficult. Instead of making the protections stronger and more efficient, they would actually prevent species from getting critically needed safeguards. Doc Hastings’ bills could finally lead to the beginning of the end for this vitally needed law. Please ask Congress to reject these dangerous bills and maintain the protections of the Endangered Species Act that have worked for more than four decades.
Leda Huta is the Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.