A hearing was held today by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to hear arguments by Republicans who support fragmentation of the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides federal protection for wildlife organisms which are deemed “endangered” or “threatened.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has more information about the legislation on their website.
The Endangered Species Act allows the federal government to protect species through various involvements in business, agriculture, private property, and other aspects of life. Some of these encroachments are what is making Republicans in Congress have the desire to strip back the Endangered Species Act. Many voice their concerns over business and economic inhibitions, while others are more concerned over property rights. For example, one lobbyist argues that it is difficult for farmers to meet demands when wildlife populations exist (which are protected under the Endangered Species Act) in areas where they need to conduct agriculture. Others argue that the ESA is limiting natural gas production, as well as other industries such as mining or logging, in this country.
More Republican Congressmen and women also believe that the federal government should not be allowed to tell private citizens what to do with their private lands. Under the Endangered Species Act, the government can protect endangered populations on private property which is seen as infringement by those who do not support the bill.
Republicans are arguing for these drawbacks of the ESA under the guise of “modernizing” the bill. However, this is just a ruse for wanting to strip away protection for thousands of animals in order to protect personal interests in the businesses and people it would benefit.
Others who took the stand during the committee hearing included environmentalists who do not support the “modernization.” One such individual, Jamie Rappaport Clark, pointed out that the Obama administration removed 29 species from the list due to the protection the ESA offers.
The ESA is a critical piece of legislation to save animals around the world who face extinction.