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E-M:/ SIGN-ON LETTER--To the Senate to Stop Kempthorne's ESA Bill (fwd)



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Enviro-Mich message from "Karin I. Mueller" <kimuelle@umich.edu>
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 1997 00:49:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: Genevieve Annaliese Skora <gwinnie@umich.edu>
To: snre.bs@umich.edu
Cc: snre.ms@umich.edu
Subject: SIGN-ON LETTER--To the Senate to Stop Kempthorne's ESA Bill (fwd)


ACTION ALERT  -- PLEASE ACT NOW

SIGN-ON LETTER - Ask the Senate to oppose Senator Kempthorne's 
Endangered Species Destruction Act

Folks,

Kempthorne's new bill to gut the Endangered Species Act is on a fast 
track.  Senators Chafee (R-RI), Baucus (D-MT), and Reid (D-NV) sponsor 
the bill.  Interior Secretary Babbitt also supports it.  We might as 
well consider that the Clinton Administration is on board as well.  The 
bill, S. 1180, has had only one hearing and will go to full Committee 
mark-up next week (probably September 30).  We do not have much time to 
derail this bill.

It is imperative that groups concerned about endangered species 
protection and recovery send a unified and strong message to the Senate 
that we DO NOT SUPPORT this bill.

Please sign your group on to this letter.  Please circulate this alert 
far and wide.

Thanks,
Roger Featherstone

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WHAT TO DO

Send your groups' name, address, and a contact person to 
rfeather@defenders.org

The deadline for this letter is the Close of Business Monday, September 
29, 1997.  (We will deliver the letter to the entire Senate on Tuesday, 
September 30.)

Please distribute this alert to as many groups and individuals as you 
can.

If you do not belong to a group or cannot get permission for your group 
to sign this letter by the deadline, us this letter as a model to send 
to your Senator.  (You can also do this even if your group has signed 
this letter!)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

DRAFT SIGN-ON LETTER

September 30, 1997

Dear Senator,

We, the undersigned, representing grassroots conservation organizations 
from across the country, urge you to oppose the Endangered Species Act 
reauthorization bill, S. 1180, introduced by Senator Dirk Kempthorne 
(R-ID).  The bill creates a number of impediments to species recovery 
and hidden costs for taxpayers.  It adds layers of bureaucracy and 
closed-door meetings to the process of listing and recovering 
endangered species, making it a slow train on a "fast-track" to 
extinction.

S. 1180 abandons the primary mission of endangered species legislation 
-- the recovery and de-listing of threatened and endangered species.

Our problems with the bill are many.  A partial list of our concerns 
include:

It bypasses recovery planning by not requiring science based 
recovery teams, public notice and comment and recovery goals.

It provides no guarantee of adequate funding for federal agencies 
to fulfill their mandate. 

It subsidizes habitat destruction, forcing taxpayers to pick up 
the costs that extractive industry will not bear for mitigation 
and recovery.

It provides special access for special interests, providing 
parties with economic interests in projects with closed-door 
consultation.  The public is shut out.

Conservation groups were shut out of the process.  In spite of 
what you may have heard, no conservation group -- national, 
regional or local -- supports this bill.

The responsibility for protecting our rich natural heritage should be 
borne equitably.  The process by which recovery is achieved should be 
accessible and open to all interested parties.  S. 1180 is neither 
equitable nor accessible and we therefore urge you to oppose the bill.

We appreciate your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,

[Your group and hundreds more!]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BACKGROUND  (S 1180 fact sheet from the National Wildlife Federation)

S. 1180, Senator Kempthorne ESA Bill, Weakens Protections for 
Endangered Species -- Oppose it Until Key Changes Are Made!
 
Senators Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID), John Chafee (R-RI), Max Baucus (D-MT), 
and Harry Reid (D-NV) recently introduced S. 1180, a bill to 
reauthorize the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Although it is being 
portrayed as a moderate "compromise" solution to the endangered species 
debate, it undermines some of the ESA's essential provisions for 
protecting and recovering our nation's endangered wildlife.  

The National Wildlife Federation has pushed for needed improvements to 
the ESA-- changes that would make the law work better for people as 
well as wildlife.  Unfortunately, S. 1180 not only fails to include 
many of these needed improvements to the ESA, it weakens existing 
protections that are essential to the survival of species.  In 
particular, S. 1180:

Reduces Species Protections on Federal Lands by Weakening Agency 
Accountability

S. 1180 makes it harder for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and 
National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) to serve as watchdogs 
over other federal agencies whose activities often contribute to 
species decline.  For instance, this bill allows industries operating 
on federal lands to get a full exemption from any further ESA 
responsibilities if they agree to undertake certain activities believed 
to promote recovery -- even if those activities ultimately harm 
species.  It also allows resource extraction activities on federal 
lands, such as timber sales, to move forward before adequate 
consideration has been given to how these projects will impact newly 
listed species.  And, significantly, the bill allows industry 
representatives unprecedented access to key ESA decision-making -- such 
as how to minimize the impact that grazing on federal lands will have 
on Lower Colorado River fish -- yet continues to exclude the general 
public from these processes.   

Precludes Management Changes Needed to Prevent Extinctions on 
Nonfederal Lands 

S. 1180 lets private and other nonfederal landowners "lock-in" long-
term land management plans (Habitat Conservation Plans, or HCPs) that 
exempt them from further conservation obligations for up to 100 years 
or more.  Such *No Surprises* assurances to landowners would make sense 
if proper safeguards were also provided for species.  Leading 
scientists have stated that at least two safeguards -- the flexibility 
to revisit HCPs, and a funding mechanism to carry out necessary changes 
-- are prerequisites for a scientifically-credible HCP policy.  
Unfortunately, they are missing from the Kempthorne bill, and thus HCPs 
would remain in force even if they are contributing to the decline and 
possible extinction of species.

Inserts Hurdles in the Listing and Recovery Planning Programs That 
Would Frustrate ESA Implementation

Although the agencies responsible for endangered species protection are 
already struggling with a vast backlog of species that await listing 
and recovery plans, this bill adds significant new bureaucratic burdens 
to the listing and recovery planning processes that will drain limited 
resources away from on-the-ground conservation.  For example, the 
Services and volunteer recovery teams are charged with engaging in 
speculative economic analyses and other burdensome studies of every 
possible recovery strategy they consider.  As the Services attempt to 
work their way through this maze of procedural hurdles and inevitable 
litigation that will result, species like the imperiled Florida black 
bear, which has been awaiting listing and recovery actions for nearly a 
decade, will continue to decline.

Allows Activities That Undermine Recovery

The ESA has been largely successful at preventing species from going 
extinct, but it has been far less successful at actually recovering 
species to the point that they can be taken off the endangered species 
list.  Although the Kempthorne bill purports to address this problem, 
it fails to address a central flaw with current ESA implementation -- 
the fact that federal agencies routinely approve projects that result 
in significant habitat destruction and undermine the ESA's recovery 
goal.  To fulfill its promise that species recovery needs will finally 
be addressed, the Kempthorne bill needs to be amended to ensure that 
agencies approve only those projects designed in a manner that does not 
undermine species recovery.

Recent polls show that 84% of the American public supports retaining or 
strengthening endangered species protections.  As currently written, S. 
1180 ignores the sentiments of everyday Americans and erodes protection 
for our invaluable imperiled wildlife.  Please contact your Senators 
and the White House immediately and urge them to oppose S. 1180 as an 
unacceptable step backwards in our national commitment to protect our 
wildlife heritage.


==========================================================
Roger Featherstone -- Director
GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network
A project of Defenders of Wildlife
PO Box 40046, Albuquerque, NM 87196-0046
(505) 277-8302  fax:(505) 277-5483  e-mail:  rfeather@defenders.org
check out our web page at:  http://www.defenders.org/grnhome.html
(All other GREEN staff remain at our Washington, DC, office)
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