Friday, March 27, 2015

Vote-A-Rama in (Washington) DC!

Our Defenders Of Wildlife Presents Vote-A-Rama in (Washington) DC!

The Senate Vote-A-Rama is happening right now and will continue on into tonight! If you are not in Washington, you might not have heard that the Senate is having a slumber party tonight, and just like 12 year old kids, plans to stay up all night. After only a whopping two minutes of debate on each item, they will be casting their votes on dozens of issues, the impact and consequences of which will be unknown to all of the Senators, including many anti-environmental amendments related to conservation of wildlife and public lands. This is all part of a budget resolution process that will not have the effect of law, but will put lawmakers on the record on these and many other critical issues.

Already, we are seeing various predictable proposals by Senators Inhofe, Lee, and Cotton, just to name a few, that would gut protections for our nation’s endangered species. Senator Thune has also introduced legislation that will prevent protections for the northern long-eared bat. Senator Daines would weaken restrictions on ivory trade, putting elephants in further jeopardy.

And the day is still young. We will keep you posted on any anti-ESA proposals that are voted on overnight. In the meantime, reach out to your senators! Tell them to be good stewards of our lands and endangered wildlife and don’t vote for any bills that would hinder the protections of our nation’s public lands and imperiled wildlife during the Vote-A-Rama.
Here is a summary of the bills we have seen so far:

Rounds (R-SD)/Inhofe (R-OK) #412: This amendment would undermine citizens’ ability to enforce bedrock environmental laws, making it more difficult for citizens to hold federal agencies to their statutory duties, while needlessly burdening courts and draining judicial resources.

Thune (R-SD) #422: This amendment would block, perhaps permanently, a final U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) decision due April 2, 2015 about whether to list the northern long-eared bat under the ESA, in deference to vague and undefined “State conservation plans.” It does not require these plans to adequately or actually protect the bat.

Heller (R-NV) #452: This amendment would indefinitely delay a listing decision on the greater sage-grouse by requiring the FWS to complete candidate conservation agreements (CCAs) – voluntary conservation agreements that address threats to species and help conserve species – with western states before making a listing determination under the ESA.

Inhofe (R-OK) #497: This amendment would shift “conservation planning and implementation” from the federal government to states and local governments. Allowing each state to take a different approach to conservation would lead to a patchwork of inadequate protection for imperiled species across the nation. Not to mention that far fewer resources would be available. All state wildlife agencies combined spend less than one-fifth of what the federal government spends on endangered species conservation.

Daines (R-MT) #606: This amendment would make any objects containing antique ivory exempt from anti-wildlife trafficking regulations, undermining efforts to curtail the illegal trade in ivory (and in do doing so, discourage poachers of many protected species, particularly elephants and rhinos). Of particular concern, the amendment authorizes amending the African Elephant Conservation Act or the ESA.

Cotton (R-AR) #659: This amendment requires the FWS to examine the “cumulative” economic effects of a critical habitat designation, which could include the impacts of both listing and designating critical habitat. Congress rejected this approach decades ago as dangerous to the protection of imperiled species. The FWS already fully analyzes the costs and benefits of designating critical habitat, and solicits public comment and review of this analysis. The amendment would also drain agency resources that could otherwise be spent on protecting and conserving species.

Lee (R-UT) #759: This amendment would limit the Federal regulation of any species found entirely within the borders of a single state. As of 2010, roughly 50% of listed species fall into this category. If passed, it would devastate endangered species conservation and lead to more extinctions. For example, it could prevent every listed plant or animal in Hawaii from being protected under the ESA. Declining resident species are only listed under the ESA because states have already failed to stop their decline.

Lee (R-UT) #861: This amendment would undermine citizens’ ability to enforce the Endangered Species Act by restricting their ability to recover litigation costs when they prevail in court.

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