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GOP attack on endangered species fueled by “Tea Party fantasies’

House report fails to cite any peer-reviewed science

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A lynx kitten in Colorado. Photo courtesy CPW.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Anti-environmental Republicans in the House are once again twisting the facts and distorting science in their efforts to dismantle the Endangered Species Act on behalf of various extractive and environmentally harmful industries.

An analysis released last week by the Center for Biological Diversity found a series of significant factual errors in a report that formed the basis of a recent proposal by 13 House Republicans to weaken a bedrock environmental law that has prevented the extinction of scores of plants and animals across the country.

The analysis, which highlights 12 key errors in the GOP report, was sent in a letter to Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chair of a key House resources committee. According to wildlife conservation advocates, the proposal would cripple key parts of the Act by limiting the ability of citizens to hold government accountable by challenging endangered species decisions and policies.

The proposal would also give local authorities more influence over which plants and animals receive protections, essentially giving politicians more power over how the Endangered Species Act is administered.

“The Republicans’ proposal is little more than a laundry list of unverified complaints from cherry-picked witnesses from the six hearings held by the Natural Resources Committee over the past three years,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director with the Center. “It’s telling that 118 of the citations in the report are from unsubstantiated statements from its own selected hearing witnesses and the statements of Republican members of the Committee. There’s not a single reference to a peer-reviewed scientific publication — not one — to support any recommendation for changes to the Act.”

The report’s recommendations specifically target the Center’s historic agreement in 2011 to speed up protection decisions for 757 imperiled plants and animals around the country and seeks to limit the ability of citizens to hold the government accountable in court when the Endangered Species Act is violated.

The report incorrectly blames the Act for increases in catastrophic wildfires; it parrots industry talking points that protecting highly imperiled species will devastate the U.S. economy. The report also misinterprets data provided by the Department of Justice on the role of litigation under the Act.

“Any discussion on changes to the Endangered Species Act — certainly the most important law protecting plants and animals from extinction — ought to be based on facts, not flimsy assertions and Tea Party fantasies,” Hartl said.

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2 Responses

  1. There is always a heaping amount of irony when ever politicians try to gut the ESA. When it was introduced in 1973 it passed with over whelming bipartisan support. Conservative vitriol against the act tracts scarily close to the increase in polarization of political views over the past 40 years.

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