House Democrats object to ‘anti-wildlife’ provisions

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Four Michigan House members this week signed onto a letter with 88 other Democrats urging President Barack Obama to veto any Republican attempts to strip Endangered Species Act protections from authorizing or spending bills this fall.

Their concerns centered on “anti-wildlife” provisions within the House energy package and defense bill, as well as the Interior appropriation bills passed by both chambers of Congress, explaining the measures would remove protections for gray wolves, grizzly bears and federally protected lands in Alaska, among other protections.

They say the provisions would also limit court access for citizens who seek to enforce the Endangered Species Act, among other environmental laws, and would “gut” efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and protect African elephants by restricting the sale of ivory.

The lawmakers said the legislation would “undermine the Endangered Species Act, upend management of our national wildlife refuges and other federally protected lands, and harm individual species at risk of extinction. We urge you to maintain steadfast opposition to all of these provisions and reject any legislation that includes them.”

Republicans in recent years have sought to reform the Endangered Species Act, which they say has led to overregulation. For instance, they have argued that some species under consideration for protection, would block millions of acres for development or energy exploration.

Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, led the letter with the committee’s ranking Democrat Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia.

Reps. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, Sander Levin of Royal Oak and John Conyers Jr. of Detroit also signed the letter.

“The Endangered Species Act protects some of our most iconic lands and wildlife, and we shouldn’t be trying to gut it through unrelated bills to fund the government,” Dingell said in a statement.

“We should be working together to improve conservation in this country, not rolling back the clock.”

Dingell’s husband, retired Rep. John Dingell, authored the Endangered Species Act, which was signed into law in 1973.

(202) 662-8736