U.S. House Democrats Release Funding Bill Of 23.4 Million To Protect Species Waiting For Protection Under The Endangered Species Act

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U.S. House Democrats today released a funding bill for the Interior Department that includes $23.4 million to evaluate whether imperiled animals and plants warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. That’s an increase of $5 million from the 2019 budget.

The legislation would also increase the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund by $10 million to a total of $63 million. The legislation was overseen by Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Betty McCollum, chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

Today’s legislation is also notable for having zero poison-pill riders designed to undermine the Endangered Species Act and other critical environmental safeguards. This is the first appropriations bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2010 that is clear of all riders.

“Chairwomen Lowey and McCollum deserve enormous credit for recognizing the severity of the extinction crisis and doing something about it,” Brett Hartl, Government Affairs Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “This additional funding could help save hundreds of imperiled animals and plants from extinction.”

In early May, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned governments around the world that one million species are now at risk of extinction due to the actions of humans. IPBES scientists said that urgent action is needed to avert mass extinction in the coming decades.

In the United States, approximately 500 imperiled animals and plants are still awaiting a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision on whether they need protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Trump administration has reviewed species at the lowest rate of any administration; deliberately dragging its feet and extending the listing process to avoid taking action.

“With these additional funds, the Trump administration will have no excuse for further delay in taking action needed to protect our natural heritage,” said Hartl.

A scientific study published in the journal PeerJ shows the Endangered Species Act has saved roughly 99% of protected species since its creation in 1973, demonstrating that the law has been overwhelmingly successful. The study found that a total of 291 species would have been expected to go extinct without the Endangered Species Act.

In contrast, 47 species have gone extinct while awaiting protections that were denied in part because Congress failed to provide sufficient funds to complete the listing process.

We must all work together to save our endangered species for the future of our planet. Extinction is forever.

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