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Tea Party senators introduced a bill last week that would effectively end the protection of most endangered species in the U.S. by gutting some of the most important provisions of the Endangered Species Act. Senate Bill 1731, introduced by Tea Party members Sen. Paul (R-KY), Sen. Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Heller (R-NV) would end protections for most of the species that are currently protected by the act and make it virtually impossible to protect new species under the law. It would also eliminate protection for habitat that’s critical to the survival of rare and struggling animals and plants around the country.
Despite this successful track record, the bill’s most extreme provision would require that every five years all protected species be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species, eliminating all legal protections. No matter how close to extinction they might be, every listed species would then have to wait until Congress passed a joint resolution renewing their protections under the act for another five years. Five years later, this process would start over again, eliminating all protections until Congress passed another joint resolution.
The bill would eliminate all protections for the critical habitat of endangered species and allow state governments to effectively veto any conservation measures designed to protect an imperiled species within their respective state. Meanwhile federal wildlife agencies would need to complete onerous accounting reports to estimate the costs of protecting endangered species rather than completing tangible, on-the-ground conservation activities to protect species and the places they live.
In the crazy bill introduction category, Sens. Paul (R-KY), Lee (R-UT) and Heller (R-NV) and Rep. Amodei (R-NV) introduced companion bills entitled the “Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act” (H.R. 3533; S. 1731), which give complete control over endangered species management to states – regardless of whether such states actually want to do what’s best for imperiled species or are equipped to do so. Additionally, it would require the consent of governors and passage of a joint resolution by Congress to list new species, leaving protections to politics—not science. And it would delist species after five years, regardless of whether they have recovered.