April 28, 2009
Broad Support Demonstrated for Restoring Endangered Species Protections
Washington DC - Congressmen Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07) and conservation and scientific organizations today called on the Obama administration to quickly restore needed protections for America's wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction, including the imperiled polar bear and its rapidly shrinking Arctic ecosystem.
"It is clear what now must be done," said Representative Grijalva. "Congress granted this extraordinary authority to repeal both Bush administration endangered species rules because it wanted the new administration to act and the time to act is now. Given that there is no basis in law or scientific policy, the rules on consultation and polar bear global warming impacts must be revoked."
Congress granted the Obama administration a special 60-day period to repeal two last-minute Bush administration rule changes that weaken the Endangered Species Act by diminishing scientific consultation requirements for federal agencies and restricting protections for the polar bear. President Obama ordered a review of one of the rules in March and temporarily restored part of the consultation system, which was put in place originally during the Reagan administration.
"At the close of their first 100 days, it is time for President Obama and Secretary Salazar to renew hope for our nation's wildlife and wild places and restore protections for our endangered species," said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "Their efforts to overturn the Bush Administration's environmental regulations will send a message to the world that America is ready to lead again by tackling the two most urgent environmental problems of species extinction and climate change."
Support for restoring the endangered species protections has come from members of Congress, scores of organizations, hundreds of biologists and tens of thousands of citizens.
"Americans have been inspired by President Obama's message of change. Restoring the basic protections of the Endangered Species Act is one way the Obama administration will signal that the dark Bush days have passed," said Bob Irvin, the Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs for Defenders of Wildlife. "But for our nation's most imperiled species faced with extinction, this isn't about messages and politics. It's about life and death."
Letters urging the administration to restore the endangered species protections have been signed by dozens of members of the U.S. House and Senate; 133 science and conservation organizations; and 1,301 scientists. In addition, approximately 150,000 citizens have signed petitions or sent emails to the administration so far, with more to come.
"From the polar bear to the pika, from Alaska to Alabama, the Obama administration must repeal these two illegal Bush-era rules if we are to save our endangered species from global warming, toxic pollutants and habitat loss," said Bill Snape senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has generated over 90,000 petition signatures.
"The sooner we repeal these harmful regulations, the sooner we can get back to fulfilling our obligation to protect and restore America's imperiled plants, fish and wildlife," said John Kostyack, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming at the National Wildlife Federation. "In the age of global warming, it is more important than ever that we have a strong Endangered Species Act working to safeguard wildlife and the habitats they need to survive."
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that global warming could result in the extinction of 30 percent of the world's species.
"By reinstating the full effect of the Endangered Species Act, Americans can continue to enjoy bald eagles, grizzly bears, and manatees which were on the brink of extinction just years ago," said Janette Brimmer, Staff Attorney with Earthjustice. "Science needs to be our guide when it comes to protecting threatened and endangered plants and animals."
The Obama administration has until May 10th to use the congressional authority to expedite the repeal of the two rules. The White House Office of Management and Budget has received a rule change for review on consultation. The content of that change is unknown and a decision on the polar bear rule is being handled separately.
Jon Hunter, Endangered Species Coalition, (202) 476-0669
Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 536-9351
James Navarro, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0247
Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500
Aislinn Maestas, National Wildlife Federation, (202) 797-6624
Meghan Thornton, Union of Concerned Scientists, (202) 331-6943