Stealth Senate Attempt to Overturn Endangered Species Act
The rethuglican's are at it yet again. Disregarding long established Senate Traditions, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) has introduced a bill to overturn endangered species protections in the Senate Finance Committee intead of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee where it would have had a difficult time making it to the full Senate.
Last September, Pombo's Anti-Endangered Spieces Bill was passed in the House. Pombo's Billed coupled with Crapo's would mean that species protections as we have known them since the early '70's would effectively come to an end.
For more background on republican's efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act read the following diaries:
The Center for Biological Diversity has provided an overview of the most damaging provisions of Carpo's Bill.
Center for Biological Diversity Overview of S.2110, the "Collaboration and Recovery of Endangered Species Act"
Introduced by Senator Crapo (R-ID) Thursday, December 15, 2005
Makes Habitat Protection Completely Discretionary (pages 18-19)
The Crapo bill would eliminate mandatory timelines to designate critical habitat for endangered species, instead giving the Secretary of Interior complete discretion to prioritize designations based in part on "minimizing conflicts" with "construction, development...or other economic activities." Even then the Secretary would not be required to implement the schedule, and citizen groups would be banned from seeking court orders to implement any critical habitat schedules or deadlines. All existing court orders to designate critical habitat would be overruled by the bill.
Makes Species Listing Completely Discretionary (pages 18-19)
As with habitat protections, the Crapo bill would eliminate mandatory timelines to place species on the endangered list, instead giving the Secretary of Interior complete discretion to prioritize listings. Even then the Secretary is not required to implement her schedule and citizen groups are banned from seeking court orders to implement any listing schedules or deadlines. All existing court orders to list species would be overruled by the bill.
Killing One Species in Exchange for Another (pages 36-41)
The Crapo bill would create a system allowing developers to buy and sell credits for destroying endangered species habitat. This senseless system would allow developers to destroy the habitat for one species (e.g. Coho salmon) because they have purchased credits to protect another (e.g. Mount Hermon june beetle). It would result in the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of essential habitat areas.
Undermines Recovery Plans (pages 21-28)
The Crapo bill would create a new convoluted recovery planning process that allows industry to rewrite and overrule the decisions of wildlife experts. A newly created "executive committee" made up of industry interests would make final edits and revisions to the recovery plan developed by scientists and agency biologists. Furthermore, the Crapo bill explicitly makes recovery plans "non-binding and advisory."
Creates Roadblocks to Listing Endangered Species (pages 16-18)
The Crapo bill would create an ambiguous priority system for listing endangered species that includes industry interests. Current law requires endangered species listings to be based solely on the biological needs of the species.
Eliminates Federal Oversight of Endangered Species (page 15)
The Crapo bill would require Fish and Wildlife Service to provide a "provisional permit" for any project on private property (except for "ground clearing") if there is no recovery plan in place. The permit would remain in effect until a habitat conservation plan (HCP) is approved. This would allow activities like mining and logging in endangered species habitat to proceed indefinitely with no federal oversight.
Restricts Wildlife Agencies from Improving Conservation Agreements (pages 50-53)Pays Off Developers to Not Violate the Law (page 56)
The Crapo bill would take "No Surprises"--a highly controversial administrative regulation--and make it law. The Fish and Wildlife Service would be unable to update or revoke a permit (HCP) that authorizes harm to an endangered species, even if new information indicates that the original plan was inadequate and even if it is causing the extinction of the species.
The Crapo bill would create tax breaks to compensate privat/be landowners for conservation work done on private property. However, the Crapo bill fails to limit these tax breaks to landowners who engage in active conservation--the creation or enhancement of endangered species habitat. Therefore, land developers who are required to set aside some portion of their land from development would also be eligible for these tax breaks. That is, instead of paying private landowners to create new habitat, the Crapo bill would primarily be paying developers to comply with the law, creating no new habitat.
As our attention is riveted on the important disclosures of Bush's Domestic Spying Program, please let's not lose sight of the other destructive actions being taken by the GOP.
Please contact your Senators and urge them to block consideration of this ill concieved bill.