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E-M:/ Urgent Action Needed -- ESA loophole for flood projects

>Date: 24 Apr 1997 16:16:49 U
>From: "Callahan, Deb" <deb_callahan@lcv.org>
>Subject: Urgent Action Needed -- ESA loophole for flood  projects
>To: Staff_#l#DC_&_field#r#.SMTP@smtp@lcv.com
>Status: U
>Okay everybody, this is a big one.  Sharpen up those pencils and lick those
>stamps ( or punch on those computer keys.)
>Northwest Endangered Species Alert
>I apologize if you already received this alert but I've been having problems
>with e-mail.  Thanks for being so understanding.
>>Return-Path: <MULLIGAN@nwf.org>
>>Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 18:43:20 -0400
>>To: bvincent@pacificrim.net
>>Subject:  Urgent Action Needed -- ESA loophole for flood projects
>>Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill includes a full
>>waiver of the Endangered Species Act for maintenance of flood
>>control projects.  If passed, this waiver would prevent
>>hundreds of species from getting ESA protection.  Please call or
>>fax your lawmakers today to oppose this effort to undermine
>>the ESA.
>>April 21,1997
>>Dear Endangered Species Activist Leader:
>>On Wednesday, April 16th, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
>>Energy and Water Development passed bill language that would exempt
>>a wide array of flood control activities from existing review under the
>>Endangered Species Act.  This language was attached to an Emergency
>>Supplemental Appropriations bill -- a bill intended to provide relief to
>>victims of the recent floods in California.  If left in its current form, this
>>Supplemental Appropriations bill will instead cause irreparable harm to
>>our nation?s imperiled wildlife.
>>The language, which was sponsored by Congressman Vic Fazio
>>(D-CA), would allow all actions that qualify as, ?maintenance activities on
>>flood control facilities to prevent an imminent threat to human lives and
>>property,? to be exempt from the ESA. The Subcommittee members
>>indicated their intent that this language be interpreted broadly to apply to
>>any federal or non-federal flood control project. The language is
>>sufficiently vague that it could include ESA exemptions for:
>>?hydropower projects in the Columbia River system, which would have
>>devastating impacts on salmon species;
>>? river dredging and channelization throughout the United States that
>>would eliminate habitat for endangered fish species such as the
>>Alabama sturgeon; and
>>?clearcutting of riparian, or riverbank, forests -- often considered a
>>routine flood control maintenance activity -- which would cause erosion
>>and impact imperiled species that need clear, clean water to complete
>>their life cycles.
>>The Fazio language is unnecessary, inappropriate, and most importantly,
>>harmful to species.  It must be removed from the Supplemental
>>Appropriations bill for the following reasons:
>>1.     This Waiver Will Significantly Harm Endangered Species
>>This bill will not only allow activities that may directly ?take? (harm or
>>endangered species; it will also allow for unchecked habitat destruction
>>in, and adjacent to, all of our nation?s waterways.  In California alone,
>>there are over 5,000 miles of levees, 1,000 miles of which constitute
>>some of the most valuable riverbank habitat found anywhere along the
>>Sacramento River.
>>2.     ESA Exemptions Are Already Possible in the Case of
>>Flood Emergencies
>>Under Section 7(p) of the ESA, the Secretary of Interior already has a
>>mechanism for temporarily waiving the ESA in the case of emergencies.
>>On February 19, 1997, the Department of Interior implemented this waiver
>>in response to the disastrous floods in California to ?ensure that fish and
>>wildlife conservation efforts will not hinder emergency flood response
>>measures.?  This kind of temporary waiver in the face of an emergency
>>is entirely appropriate and demonstrates the flexibility of the ESA. The
>>Fazio language goes far beyond this by extending an ESA waiver to
>>non-emergency situations.
>>3.     The ESA Has Not Hindered Our Nation?s Flood Control
>>There is no evidence to suggest that the ESA has significantly delayed
>>the maintenance, repair, or rehabilitation of flood control projects around
>>the country.  Rather, the ESA provides a needed review of flood control
>>projects to ensure that they do not unnecessarily endanger species that
>>are already in jeopardy.
>>4.     The Waiver is a Stealth Attack on the ESA
>>Once again, a handful of members of Congress are attempting to
>>undermine one of our most important environmental laws by attaching
>>damaging ?riders? to non-environmental legislation.  If evidence emerges
>>to indicate that more flexibility under the ESA is needed for flood control,
>>then Congress should have a full and public debate on the matter.
>>Sneaking in backdoor changes to the ESA using appropriations bills is
>>something that the public has opposed time and again.
>>Your help in needed now.  This bill is expected to be voted upon by the
>>full House Appropriations Committee late next week.  Shortly thereafter, it
>>will be voted on by the entire House.  Here?s what you can do:
>>1.  Call or fax your Member of Congress to let them know that you
>>strongly oppose the ESA waiver that is currently part of the Emergency
>>Supplemental Appropriations bill.
>>2.  Please also contact the White House to urge the President to veto any
>>Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that contains an ESA
>>Please spread the word about this backdoor attempt to undermine the
>>ESA and urge other organizations to voice their opposition to waivers of
>>the ESA.
>>Thank you for your commitment to protecting endangered species.  The
>>harder we oppose this type of piecemeal attack on ESA protections, the
>>less likely Congress is to make similar attempts in the future.
>>Sara Barth                       David Conrad
>>Endangered Habitats Team         Flood ManagementTeam
>>National Wildlife Federation     National Wildlife Federation
>>Phone: (202)797-6666     Phone: (202)797-6697
>>E-mail: barth@nwf.org    E-mail: conrad@nwf.org
>Brian Vincent, Conservation Director
>Northwest Ecosystem Alliance
>1421 Cornwall Avenue, Suite 201
>Bellingham WA 98225
>(360)671-9950 x 11 fax:671-8429

Lisa Wozniak
League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
117 North Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
313-213-2915= fax

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