At a news conference organized by several environmental organizations in support of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Democratic House Leader, Nancy Pelosi provided a statement in support of ESA. At this meeting 150,000 petitions in support of ESA were delivered to the White House.
Source "Thank you to the environmental activists who have converged on Washington this week to talk to your elected officials about the Endangered Species Act. We need to raise awareness in Washington and around the country because the Endangered Species Act itself should be on the "threatened" list right now. You are the cavalry coming to storm the Hill.
"You know that all species are part of a web of life, and we owe it to our children to protect animals and plants from extinction. The Endangered Species Act provides a safety net for wildlife, plants, and fish that are on the brink of extinction.
"Unfortunately, the Bush Administration takes the same approach to the Endangered Species Act that it takes to all the other major environmental laws that protect our air, water, and lands. Their approach is to appease, abuse, and assault.
"They appease their corporate supporters. To the Bush Administration, endangered species are simply an obstacle to the business practices of their corporate supporters, whose views on the environment are vastly different from responsible companies.
"They abuse the scientific evidence for protecting the environment. In a confidential survey of U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees earlier this year, large numbers of agency scientists reported political interference in scientific decisions.
"And they assault our environmental laws through regulatory changes and court cases. For example, the Forest Service is allowed to proceed with logging and road-building in endangered species habitat without assessing the affects on the endangered species.
"The Endangered Species Act is under attack in Congress as well.
"The nation rejoiced this spring when the Ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, was spotted in the woods and swamps of eastern Arkansas. The nation's capital rejoiced a few days ago when a baby panda was born in the National Zoo. We need to build on these happy events.
"I don't need to tell you why we should save all endangered species, not just the glamorous ones, like pandas. The web of life is essential to our own survival. It is not up to us to decide which of God's creations should live and which should disappear from the face of the earth.
"Thank you again for coming to Washington. You are the cavalry! You can be sure I join with you in this fight to save the Endangered Species Act."
I am heartened to see the Democratic leadership does not consider environmentalism a damaged brand and is willing to speak out on this important issue. This week the House Resources Committee Chairman, Richard Pombo, began hearings on his proposed Anti-Endangered Species legislation. After these hearings he intends to rush the bill to a vote on the House floor. This bill would dismantle many of the government protections that endangered species are currently guaranteed under ESA. He has consistently claimed that ESA is not working. The evidence does not support his claims. The Endangered Species Act needs strengthening, not dismantling.
Since the Bush Administration took office it has tried to subvert ESA.
NYT Regrettably, the Bush administration is not waiting for this debate to take place. Since the day they took office, Bush officials have tried to subvert the law administratively and in the courts. They have slowed the process by which species are listed as threatened or endangered, cut scientists out of important wildlife decisions, encouraged and then sided with industry lawsuits against habitat designation, and tortured the very meaning of the act to evade its obligations.
This attack is now culminating in a direct assault on ESA. Please contact your Representative and ask them to oppose Pombo's efforts to eviserate ESA.
For more background on ESA and Pombo's bill, please read this previous diary.