By Nora Apter, Natural Resources Defense Council
Today—just barely a month into the 115th Congress—Republicans held an oversight hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) titled, “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Of course, anyone who has followed Congress in recent years knows that this is simply a politically clever way of describing what will in reality be a hearing to discuss how to weaken or repeal the Endangered Species Act altogether. EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) is a vocal critic of the ESA, and has made no secret of his interest in eviscerating the law. ESA opponents don’t like the fact that the law works:
- It’s effective—The ESA has saved a remarkable 99 percent of listed species from going extinct.
- It’s flexible—The ESA provides needed flexibility to for industry and landowners.
- It’s popular—The ESA is a wildly popular law, earning the support of 90 percent of Americans.
Considering the ESA’s record of success what justifiable explanation is there for opposition? The answer is: there isn’t.
Unfortunately, history has shown that today’s EPW hearing is probably only the beginning of what will be dozens if not hundreds of legislative attacks on the ESA this Congress. It is more critical than ever for constituents to let their representatives in Congress know they support preserving the Endangered Species Act and all of the species that benefit from its protection.