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1300 Scientists Denounce Congress’ Attempt to Undermine Endangered Species Act

April 1, 2011

I did not see this on the nightly news — but you can read it here on PTWB.

Union of Concerned Scientists reports:

Hundreds of Scientists Denounce Congress’ Attempt to Undermine Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2011) – Nearly 1,300 scientists today urged senators to oppose efforts to undermine the scientific authority of the Endangered Species Act, which they fear would threaten the long-term survival of all species protected by the law.

The letter, signed by 1,293 scientists with expertise in biology, ecology and other relevant disciplines, urges senators to block any legislation that would compromise the scientific foundation of the law. The Senate is now considering its version of the House’s Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R. 1), which includes language that would take the gray wolf off the endangered species list. The lone rider on the Senate version contains similar language.

If Congress passed the continuing resolution with the gray wolf provision, it would be the first time a species was delisted without the benefit of scientific analysis, establishing a precedent for Congress to delist other species without scientific review.

“The consequences of this action would extend far beyond the survival of one particular species,” said Franz Camenzind, a Wyoming-based wildlife ecologist who signed the letter. “If any one species is taken off the endangered species list by Congress, then all of the species on the list become vulnerable to future political attacks. This would send the implementation of the Endangered Species Act into chaos, creating uncertainty both for species and for the communities and businesses around them.”

At the same time Congress is poised to delist the gray wolf, a federal judge in Montana is considering an agreement between the Department of Interior and several environmental groups to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf in Idaho and Montana. The agreement would grant those two states management authority over the wolf but retain federal protection for the animal in four other states.

The scientists’ letter points out that Congress is flouting an Endangered Species Act stipulation that any determination to add or remove a species from the endangered species list be made solely on the best available science. After a species is added to the list, authorities can consider other factors when making decisions about how to best ensure a species’ recovery. The law also includes a provision that allows the government to override species protections in special cases.

“Allowing Congress to remove or add protections for particular species would set a dangerous precedent, as the fate of every species on the endangered species list (or any candidate for that list) would then be subject to political interference,” the letter states. “To undermine the careful and thoughtful scientific process that determines whether a species is endangered or recovered would jeopardize not only the species in question and the continued success of the Endangered Species Act, but the very foundation of the ecosystems that sustain us all.”

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Entire article, click here

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