The Endangered Species Act has saved 99% of species from extinction.
Senate Republicans are holding a hearing in order to discuss the most successful tactic to repeal the Endangered Species Act. The Republican lawmakers have been wanting to make the Endangered Species Act “more modern” for years, according to recent reports, largely on the basis that the Act is getting in the way of their plans for drilling, mining and land development across America. However, this longing is becoming more of a reality with the new Trump administration. Since 2011, when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, they have made 233 legislative attempts to either dismantle the Act or to target specific endangered species. They have additionally introduced a further 135 amendments to the legislature which are designed to dramatically reduce the protection that has been placed on the endangered species, which therefore weakens the Act itself.
Despite these government actions, the majority of Americans are in favor of the original Act as it is, therefore wanting the protection maintained on endangered species. A national poll that was conducted on the public’s views of the Act in 2015 found that 90 percent of Americans supported the Act, and claimed that they would be more inclined to vote for a member of Congress who would maintain and uphold those environmental safeguards. Brett Hartl, the government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said in a statement, “The clear intent of this hearing is to begin the process of gutting the Endangered Species Act. [The] callous attack on this crucial environmental law is totally out of step with the strong majority of Americans who support the Endangered Species Act. Without the Act we wouldn’t have bald eagles, grizzly bears or many other wildlife species we all cherish.”
The Endangered Species act was approved by Congress unanimously and signed into law by President Nixon to save the bald eagle back in 1973. According to the CBD, since then the presence of the Act has meant that 99 percent of species listed under its protection have been saved from extinction. Estimations have shown that if the Act had not been in place, then 227 species would have gone extinct by as early as 2006. According to reports, many different arguments have come into place for dismantling the Act, which includes, “it isn’t saving enough species” and “it is a financial burden” of protecting species, amongst many others. However, the main argument comes from industries who want access to the land that is currently protected under the environmental protection laws, as they want it for oil, coal, land development, logging and dam building. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Congress only contributes 3.5 percent of the funding that is needed to help recover these listed endangered species.
Hartl of the CBD said, “With 1 in 4 endangered species receiving less than $10,000 a year toward their recovery, the Endangered Species Act needs more funding, not baseless attacks from Senate Republicans. Oil companies may be keen to gut and repeal this vital protection for imperiled wildlife, but the American people don’t want our nation’s most effective conservation law shredded to profit the petroleum industry.”
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