Grijalva Leads 92-Member Letter to Obama Urging Veto of Defense, Appropriations Bills With Anti-Endangered Species Language

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and 91 other House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama today urging him to veto any appropriations or defense bill that includes policy riders designed to undermine the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Earlier this year, Grijalva led a similar letter to House and Senate defense authorizers asking them to drop anti-ESA riders during their negotiations.

Grijalva and other Democrats recently fought numerous anti-ESA riders on the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which House Republican leaders withdrew from consideration over the Confederate flag controversy. Today’s letter marks Grijalva and his allies’ latest attempt to prevent anti-environmental amendments being attached to bills that must pass Congress.

Last week, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Senate environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) asked the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to adopt an amendment undermining the habitat protections necessary for the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue its recent “not warranted” listing decision for greater sage-grouse. Those protections came from unprecedented collaboration between federal and state governments to conserve the bird and avoid a listing.

Despite a Defense Department spokesman saying in April that the sage-grouse listing decision – regardless of the outcome – would not affect military preparedness, Bishop has remained focused on the issue. In all, House Republicans have introduced more than 80 stand-alone bills, riders, and amendments to whittle away or outright eliminate ESA protections for threatened and endangered wildlife.

You can read the full letter at http://1.usa.gov/1OCo6vv

“We face national security challenges from Isis to Iran to Syria, and Republicans insist on sending the president a defense bill chock full of poison pill provisions that have nothing to do with national defense,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Let’s focus on paying and equipping the men and women serving in our military and funding government agencies that provide essential services to the American public, not on driving the extinction of American wildlife one species at a time.”

“The Endangered Species Act serves the needs of our communities and protects our critical natural resources,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “The recent action taken on the greater sage-grouse shows that the law works when it is allowed to function as intended. At a time when our country faces security threats at home and abroad, we must focus on adequately funding our military and national defense instead of undermining a vital conservation law that is working.”

“I am grateful to Congressman Grijalva and the 91 other House members who today have taken a stand against a Congress seemingly bent on undermining protections for our air, lands, water and wildlife,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “Congress was elected to serve the interests of the American public, not polluters and special economic interests who put profits ahead of our natural heritage at every turn, and wrongly blame federal environmental protections for interfering with their bottom line. Congress' back door attempt to undermine the Endangered Species Act and other bedrock environmental laws through the appropriations process is disgraceful and contrary to the views of the vast majority of Americans. I echo Congressman Grijalva's plea to the Obama administration to reject any appropriations bill that includes amendments that would weaken our ability to protect our natural heritage and wildlife for future generations.”

“We endorse this strong statement from nearly 100 members of Congress, which reflects the resolve of the vast majority of American voters who support the Endangered Species Act,” said Drew Caputo, Vice President of Litigation for Lands, Wildlife and Oceans at Earthjustice. “In a time of partisan strife, fully 90 percent of voters have found common cause in protections for imperiled species and preservation of our natural heritage. We urge President Obama to heed the call of these members of Congress and the American public by rejecting any spending bill or other legislation that weakens the Endangered Species Act.”

“Endangered species listing decisions should be based on sound science and public input, not legislative fiat,” said Michael Markarian, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Stripping gray wolves of federal protections would put them in the crosshairs of hostile and reckless state politicians who want to kill these creatures for trophy with cruel methods such as steel-jawed leg hold traps and hounding.”

“We are ecstatic that Congressional Democrats have stepped up to defend imperiled wildlife and the Endangered Species Act,” said Kieran Suckling, Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is critical our elected officials stand up to industry interests that seek to dismantle this very important law.”

“The Endangered Species Act is a widely supported safety net that is responsible for bringing many of our country’s most beloved animals back from the brink of extinction,” said Marni Salmon of Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign. “Efforts to undermine this bedrock law or any other and base protections on politics, not science, should have no place in Congress, and especially not attached to this spending bill.” 

"It's time for Republicans to stop using spending bills as a ploy to undermine some of our nation's most beloved environmental laws," said Elly Pepper, Wildlife Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The fact that ninety percent of Americans support the Endangered Species Act should prove to its opponents in Congress that Americans care about protecting imperiled wildlife and that they should leave this law alone."

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