Endangered Species Act at Risk
The U.S. House of Representatives is ready to vote on a proposal that would make it significantly harder to list species on the Endangered Species list. Sponsored by Representative James Hansen (R-Utah), bill number H.R.4840 is misleadingly titled "the Sound Science for Endangered Species Planning Act of 2002," as it doesn't improve the listing process by improving science, but rather builds sound obstacles to listing species by hamstringing efforts to list species that are in dire need of protection under the ESA.
HR 4840 overturns the widely-accepted scientific standard for using the "best scientific data available", and replaces it with an impossible new standard of "clear and convincing evidence." By raising the bar beyond the reaches of available science, H.R. 4840 could effectively put an end to listing species under the ESA and gut the essential protections the law provides to species headed tow ard extinction, including many of the species listed on Audubon's nationwide WatchList. HR 4840 also requires that there be a "firm belief by the Secretary of the Interior" that the evidence is "clear and convincing" and the species should be listed. This requirement would have the effect of giving the Secretary almost total discretion on whether a species should be listed.
In addition to establishing impossible scientific standards and giving the Secretary of the Interior inappropriate discretion with regard to listing decisions, the bill also raises burdensome new obstacles to citizen efforts to file petitions for species listings -- the primary way species have been added to the list since enactment of Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973. The present process of listing species on the Endangered Species List is not perfect. It can and should be improved. But H.R.4840 does not intend to improve the listing process or improve protection of bird and wildlife species headed toward extinction. Instead, it would make a mockery of the ESA by establishing impossible scientific standards and raising burdensome new obstacles to listing species that desperately need the Act's protection. Audubon and our partners in conservation are working hard to see that the full House rejects this measure when it comes before the floor later this year.
And you can help! Please contact your U.S. Representative and urge them to keep the Endangered Species Act in tact by opposing H.R.4840.
Visit the following web site to send your comment immediately:
Or, use the sample letter template to write to the your U.S. Representative.