Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives hastily - and narrowly - approved the first major changes to the Endangered Species Act since 1988. This vote represents the most serious attack on endangered species protections I have seen in the nearly 30 years I have been working on these issues.
As the debate on this legislation moves to the Senate, Environmental Defense is calling on leaders there to proceed more cautiously. In the days and weeks ahead, we will be enlisting your support as the fight in the Senate heats up.
Today's vote in the House takes direct aim at our endangered species protections. It complicates both listing new species and implementing recovery plans for species already on the list. Unfortunately, the losers are the nation's bald eagles, ocelots, grizzly bears, ivory-billed woodpeckers and other endangered species. Learn more about the vote.
The Senate has an opportunity to act more responsibly, and we urge them to do so.
The Senate stepped between the overly-hasty House and rare plants and animals once before. In 1978, the House was roiled that the Supreme Court stopped construction of a dam in Tennessee to protect endangered fish. It passed a bevy of crippling amendments to the ESA. The Senate rejected virtually everything the House had done and the Endangered Species Act survived.
Because the Senate stood strong, whooping crane numbers have increased ten-fold, California condors soar in the Grand Canyon, wolves roam in Yellowstone and black-footed ferrets are once again found in the Great Plains. The ESA has also helped restore our national symbol, the American bald eagle, from a few hundred pairs to over 8,000 pairs in the continental United States.
If successes such as these are to continue, the Senate must again reject the overreaching of the House.
In the weeks and months ahead as the fight to protect endangered species moves to the Senate, we need your help to win the battle there, so please stand by.
Thank you for your commitment to protect America's natural heritage.
Chairman of the Wildlife Program