The US House of Representatives has proposed an environmental spending bill that strips funds from many environmental agencies, including eliminating altogether the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. The vote has been denounced by House Democrats.
If made into law the bill would change the way Americans fund environmental protection. In addition to killing the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act—which is the nation’s only federal program aimed at migratory bird conservation—it would also open areas around the Grand Canyon to uranium mining, cut State Wildlife Grants by 64%, cut the North American Wetlands Conservation Act by 40%, and eliminate any new funding on listing or protecting habitat for US endangered species, essentially making the Endangered Species Act (ESA) unworkable.
“The bill is loaded with devastating funding cuts and anti-environmental provisions that will wreak havoc on our land, water, air, and wildlife,” says Darin Schroeder, Vice President of Conservation Advocacy for the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), adding that “birds will be particularly hard hit by this bill.”
The American Bird Conservancy has called this bill ‘one of the worst assaults on birds and other wildlife ever to come before Congress’ in a press release.
The bill would also makes it impossible for the government to limit pesticide use to protect endangered species.
“This Interior Appropriations bill represents an unprecedented departure from our nation’s decades-long bipartisan commitment to protecting our shared environment, magnificent natural resources, and our cherished cultural treasures,” Jim McGovern, a Democratic representative from Massachusetts, said as reported by The Hill.
Western Republicans responded that Democrats in the Eastern part of the country don’t understand how federal environmental measures impact people in the west.
“Unfortunately, time after time these agencies funded in this bill do not consider what they do to real people,” Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah, said according to the The Hill. “Real people in my community are being harmed time after time by decisions made from bureaucrats sitting here in Washington, and then we wonder why we rail against these environmental groups, why we rail against these agencies, and why we don’t want to have some kind of control over this process?”
However instead of changing laws to reflect the need for more local flexibility, Republicans are pursuing drastic cuts to make a number of environmental programs unviable in the long run.
“These programs are crucial to maintaining healthy and abundant bird populations throughout the United States, and have proven track records of success,” Schroeder of ABC said. “Congress should be highlighting these programs as models of successful government initiatives instead of eliminating and drastically reducing them.” He notes that the Endangered Species Act has led to the recovery of the whooping crane and America’s symbol, the bald eagle.
The bill would also make it impossible for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
(06/29/2011) The Eskimo curlew is (or perhaps, ‘was’) a small migratory shorebird with a long curved beak, perfect for searching shorelines and prairie grass for worms, grasshoppers and other insects, as well as goodies including berries. Described as cinnamon-colored, the bird nested in the Arctic tundra of Alaska and Canada during the summer and in the winter migrated en masse as far south as the Argentine plains, known as the pampas. Despite once numbering in the hundreds of thousands (and perhaps even in the millions), the Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis) today may well be extinct. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has decided to conduct a final evaluation of the species to determine whether its status should be moved from Critically Endangered to Extinct, reports Reuters.
(05/27/2011) Republican House Representative Dana Rohrabacher shocked scientists on Wednesday when he asserted clear-cutting the world’s rainforests would be a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reports Politico.
(05/19/2011) More people, less forests: that’s the conclusion of a US Forest Service report for forests in the US South. The report predicts that over the next 50 years, the region will lose 23 million acres (9.3 million hectares) largely due to urban sprawl and growing populations amid other factors. Such a loss, representing a decline of over 10 percent, would strain ecosystem services, such as water resources, while potentially imperiling over 1,000 species. However, Dogwood Alliance, which campaigns for conservation of southern forests criticizes the new report for underplaying the role of clearcutting natural forests for the paper industry in the south.