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Commentaries and editorials

Dems Push Obama on
Endangered Species Protections

by Devin Henry
The Hill, November 5, 2015

President Obama should reject Republican-backed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as part of any spending bills this year, Senate Democrats said Thursday.

In a letter to Obama, 25 Democrats warned that the ESA faces "legislative attacks" from Republicans, who have tried to reform the law using policy riders to spending bills.

The Democrats, led by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), said Obama should veto any spending deal that includes ESA provisions. "As you work with Congress to negotiate a spending package, we urge you to flatly reject all riders that would undermine Endangered Species Act protections for particular species or otherwise erode the Act," the senators wrote.

Republican leadership has looked to reform the 40-year-old ESA and limit its impact on landowners while still protecting animals and plants.

They have used a handful of legislative mechanisms to do so, including policy riders to spending bills. Over the summer, the White House issued a veto threat for an Interior Department spending bill in part because of its ESA provisions.

There have been congressional skirmishes over several species' endangered status, as well.

Conservation groups, for example, want the Fish and Wildlife Service to water down federal protections for the gray wolf, while some lawmakers have looked to take it off the endangered list entirely. Regulators refused to take action on the wolf's status earlier this year.

In their letter, the senators used the fight as an example, and encouraged Obama to "oppose all appropriations riders that would undermine Endangered Species Act protections" for the wolf.

"We agree with you that decisions about protecting species under the Endangered Species Act should be made based upon science -- such provisions have no place in the appropriations process," the group wrote.

Related Pages:
Americans Support Endangered Species Act Reform by Staff, California Ag Today, 10/1/15
Poll Shows Broad Support for Endangered Species Act Reform by American Farm Bureau, AG Professional, 9/30/15

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