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E-M:/ URGENT ESA ACTION ALERT



Enviro-Mich -- First Assault on the ESA of the year -- tied to funding for
Kosovo funding -- Please Contact Senators Levin and Abraham on this ASAP!  AW


CRITICAL HABITAT MORATORIUM THREATENED!
CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS!

Sen. Domenici (R-NM) has expressed his intent to attach an
anti-environmental rider to the must-pass Kosovo funding package.  The
completed package is expected for a final vote in the House and Senate
EARLY NEXT WEEK.  According to public statements from his office,
Domenici's rider would attempt to undermine a key provision of the
Endangered Species Act -- critical habitat. As every school child
knows, you cannot protect a species unless you protect its habitat.

THIS IS THE FIRST ATTACK ON THE ESA THIS YEAR. MANY MORE WILL COME IF
WE DON'T ACT NOW!

1.  CALL THE CAPITOL SWITCHBOARD AT 202/224-3121.
The following decision-makers need to know that Americans oppose ALL
anti-environmental riders on funding bills, especially ones that gut
the Endangered Species Act.  House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) House
Appropriations Chair Bill Young (R-FL) Senate Minority Leader Tom
Daschle (D-SD) Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) Don't stop here.  Make
sure your own Senators and Representative know your opinion.

2.  CALL SECRETARY BABBITT (202)208-7351
TELL SECRETARY BABBITT THAT HE MUST OPPOSE DOMENICI'S RIDER.  Interior
Secretary Babbitt recently made public statements to Sen. Domenici
implying that he would NOT oppose a critical habitat moratorium.  He
said "We are going to proceed with declaring critical habitat. I would
prefer not to. It is a--it is not productive. It is incendiary, and it
will be in this {silvery minnow} case."  Earlier he said, "It should
be modified."  He is wrong.  Critical habitat protection is essential
to species recovery and delisting.  How can we ever hope to
rehabilitate our disappearing wildlife if we don't save them places to
live?

BACKGROUND:
The Endangered Species Act rider threatened by Sen. Domenici would
either stop the designation of critical habitat for the highly
endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow or halt all critical habitat
designations nationwide.  Critical habitat applies only to federal
actions, not private lands, and provides us with the information and
certainty needed to recover and delist our nation's endangered and
threatened wildlife.  As required by the ESA, critical habitat
designation is flexible -- the decision process must include an
analysis of local economic impacts. Whether for the silvery minnow or
for all endangered species, any critical habitat moratorium must be
opposed.

Domenici probably wants to subvert habitat protection through one of
two types of riders:

1) Species specific rider:  The Department of Interior is proposing
the designation of critical habitat for the endangered Rio Grande
silvery minnow. Much of the species' habitat occurs in New Mexico's
Rio Grande, which runs dry while most of the water is diverted for
agricultural and urban use.  The species' disappearance is an
indicator of a long history of abuse of the areas' water resources.
Local fears about the impacts of critical habitat designation have
been exasperated by Secretary Babbitt's refusal to conduct a full
economic analysis as required by the ESA.  In truth, critical habitat
designation and protection will encourage much needed water
conservation measures to provide the very small amount of water
necessary to save this fish.

2)  Critical Habitat Moratorium:  More than 1,000 species listed as
endangered and threatened in the U.S. still don't have designated
critical habitat.  The Department of Interior is slowly processing
critical habitat petitions for many of these species -- including a
recent proposal to protect 245 highly endangered species of plants in
Hawai'i.  A critical habitat moratorium would further bloat the
backlog of species awaiting critical habitat designations, delay
desperately needed conservation measures, and increase the costs of
recovery.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Heather Weiner
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund
1625 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 702 Washington, D.C. 20036
(202)667-4500 x 204 (202)667-2356 (fax)


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