For Immediate Release, November 12, 2015
Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121, Bhartl@biologicaldiversity.org
Western Governors' Association Calls for Massive Weakening of Endangered Species Act
WASHINGTON— At the behest of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, the Western Governors’ Association is hosting a “workshop” in Cody, Wyo., through Friday to discuss legislative changes designed to weaken the Endangered Species Act, including further delaying protection decisions and loosening scientific standards. Although the stated goal of the workshop is to encourage bipartisan conversations to improve the Endangered Species Act, the speakers at the gathering overwhelmingly represented industries and political interests opposed to protections for endangered species.
“This workshop is just the latest effort to gut the Endangered Species Act,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Not a single idea offered in this workshop would improve the recovery of a single species under the Endangered Species Act. Instead we heard the usual industry gripes alleging that the Endangered Species Act obstructs extraction of fossil fuels and other destructive activities.”
At the workshop, speakers recommended measures that would delay protection of wildlife, weaken standards for reliance on best available science and increase the role of states – including ones hostile to endangered species – in decisions about whether species are protected. Similar to recent attacks in the Republican-controlled Congress, which have seen a 600-percent increase in recent years, speakers at the workshop criticized protections for gray wolves, grizzly bears, American burying beetles, lesser prairie-chickens and others.
“In 2015, hundreds of endangered species got less than $1,000 each for their recovery, and some species received nothing all,” said Hartl. “Yet not a single speaker at this workshop mentioned the enormous funding shortfall the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces in places like the Southeast or Hawaii. Instead we see this myopic focus on taking protections away from the American burying beetle and lesser prairie-chicken, as if that represents real reform of the Endangered Species Act.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.