Republicans are creating legislation that would weaken Endangered Species Act

Republicans want to significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act in the name of business profits

Published February 17, 2017 5:30PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Jeannie Nuss, File)
(AP Photo/Jeannie Nuss, File)

The Republican Party's war on nature rolls on.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings on Wednesday to discuss legislation that would weaken the Endangered Species Act, according to The Washington Post. These hearings occurred even as the House Natural Resources Committee is considering an outright repeal the bill, with Committee Chairman Rob Bishop claiming that its main reason for existing is "to control the land." Senate Republicans argue that the bill violates states' rights and property rights, as well as limits economic growth in drilling, mining, and agriculture.

The Endangered Species Act, which was passed in 1973 as a way of protecting animals and plants in danger of extinction, was described in congressional testimony by Defenders of Wildlife CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark as very successful. "For more than 40 years, the ESA has been successful, bringing the bald eagle, the American alligator, the Stellar sea lion, the peregrine falcon, and numerous other species back from the brink of extinction," Clark said. "Based on data from the (Fish and Wildlife Service), the ESA has saved 99 percent of listed species from extinction."

Polls also indicate that Endangered Species Act is also quite popular. A 2011 survey sponsored by the Endangered Species Coalition and conducted by Harris Interactive found that 84 percent of Americans support the law.

Since taking office, the Trump administration attempted (then aborted) a "witch hunt" against climate change staffers in the energy department, removed climate change information from the White House website, halted grants and contracts from the Environmental Protection Agency and appointed a climate change denier to lead the EPA.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Endangered Species Endangered Species Act Environmental Policy