Republicans charge against ESA

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1995:

Congressional rush to gut the Endangered
Species Act gained momentum on September
7 when Republican representatives Don
Young (R-Alaska) and Richard Pombo (RCalifornia)
introduced the most aggressive
rollback measure yet. Titled HR 2275, the
Endangered Species Conservation
Management Act of 1995, it was immediately
endorsed by Rep. Billy Lauzin (R-La.) and
Rep. Bill Brewster (D-Okla.) Young
claimed to have 95 cosponsors in all.
The Young/Pombo bill would
repeal the portion of the ESA cited in the
Supreme Court’s June 29 verdict that it does
cover critical habitat as well as individuals of
protected species. Tax breaks would be
given to landowners who protect habitat, but
the government would have to compensate
landowners for any mandatory conservation
measures that harm property values. The
Secretary of the Interior would be allowed to
determine that a species should go extinct.
A peer review requirement for all
listing decisions was cited by Defenders of
Wildlife analysts as a prescription for indefinite
delay. Added Defenders, “Under the
pretense of creating a National Biological
Diversity Reserve, the Young/Pombo bill
would eliminate habitat protection requirements
on many federal lands. In addition,
the consultation requirements of the ESA
would be drastically altered to allow federal
agencies to destroy habitat and needlessly
harm threatened and endangered species.”
Subspecies and geographically or
biologically isolated populations, such as
particular salmon runs, could only be protected
through special acts of Congress.
While Young pledged that his bill
would be on the floor of the House for a vote
by November, it is not expected to advance
unamended. However, as chair of the House
Resources Committee, with fellow Alaska
Republican Frank Murkowski chairing the
counterpart Senate committee, Young is
well-positioned to push for passage of the
central features of his bill, which are likely
to be merged with similar features from previously
introduced bills addressing the ESA.
The Young/Pombo bill most resembles
the Endangered Species Act Reform Act
of 1995, drafted by a coalition of lobbyists
for the timber and construction industries,
and introduced last spring by Sen. Slade
Gorton (R-Wash..) Like the Gorton bill, it is
opposed not only by animal and habitat protection
groups, but also by the Pacific Coast
Federation of Fishermen’s Associations,
which is engaged in an ongoing conflict with
timber interests over the preservation of
spawning streams.
Traffic encouraged
The Endangered Species Coalition
online briefing for September 8 noted that
“Provisions in the ESA which protect foreign
wildlife including elephants, leopards, and
antelope would be eliminated” by the
Young/Pombo bill, reflecting “recommendations
made to Young in a March 10 letter
from the governments of Zimbabwe,
Botswana, Malawi, and Namibia. The bill
lifts all ESA controls on the import of sporthunted
trophies of threatened species,” the
briefing added, “and forbids the U.S. from
imposing stronger import restrictions on
threatened species than those required by the
Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species.”
Some pressure for amendments
favorable to animals could come from House
Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who on
July 13 took the floor during trimming of the
Interior Department budget to defend aid to
rhino, tiger, and elephant conservation programs
Hoping for passage of the parts of
the Young/Pombo bill pertaining to international
wildlife traffic, the Southern African
Development Community is already setting
up a joint marketing plan for elephant ivory
culled from state-owned herds. Members of
the SADC include Angola, Botswana,
Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,
South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania,
Zambia, and Zimbabwe––but not all of them
favor selling ivory.
The plan was announced in the
wake of a World Wildlife Fund warning that
the Vietnamese elephant herd has dropped
from 2,000 in 1980 to barely 300, due to
habitat loss and ivory poaching. WWF
argues that resuming the sale of ivory from
Africa will undercut Asian poachers, but the
market didn’t exactly work that way before
1989, when the present CITES moratorium
on international ivory sales was imposed.
WWF also warned that there are no
more than 1,500 tigers left in all of Indochina
due to poaching stimulated by traditional
Chinese medicinal demand for tiger bone.
Another reminder of the reality of
wildlife trafficking came from Virunga
National Park in Zaire, where six members
of an Italian family including two children
were massacred by poachers on an August 6
expedition to see gorillas. A week later, two
mountain gorillas were killed nearby.
The anti-endangered species political
mood in Congress seemed to flow north.
On August 17, more than 20 years after
Canada joined CITES, and three years after
Canada ratified the United Nations
Convention on Biological Diversity, a draft
Canadian Endangered Species Protection Act
was finally introduced into Parliament.
Purporting to protect 244 species officially
believed to be at risk, the bill was crafted to
avoid any hint of infringing on either provincial
sensibilities or private property rights.
“Canada’s proposed ‘national’
endangered species legislation will proffer
protection, if every vested interest in Canada
agrees, to the minute fraction of Canadian
wildlife inhabiting federal lands and waters,”
assessed International Wildlife Coalition representative
Anne Doncaster, “and provide
virtually no protection to wildlife habitat.”
Added Ronald Orenstein, also of
IWC, “Listing a species will not require the
federal government or anyone else to do one
thing to protect it. All it requires is that a
Response Statement be prepared––but this
statement may conclude that no effort will be
made to recover the species.”
No refuge
Other bills affecting endangered
species with a likelihood of passage include
HR 1977, the Interior Appropriations Bill,
already passed in draft form by both the
House and Senate. The House and Senate
versions are now being reconciled before
final ratification. They include a moratorium
on new endangered and threatened species
listings pending passage of a revised ESA,
and either the abolition (House) or significant
reduction of the budget of (Senate) the
National Biological Survey.
Less threatening to species but with
i 2mplications for habitat, the House has also
advanced measures that if ratified by the
Senate could reduce the National Park system,
accelerate logging in the National
Forests, and open the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, a longtime
goal of Alaskan politicians because every
state resident would get a royalty from the
proceeds. And then there was HB 1112,
from Rep. Brewster, which would turn the
Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge over to
the state of Oklahoma so that food plots
could be used to lure an estimated 100,000
ducks and 45,000 geese within range of
hunters’ shotguns––Brewster’s admitted goal.

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