Since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2011, the Republicans have made an alarming 233 legislative attempts to either threaten endangered species or essentially take apart the Endangered Species Act in general. In addition, the Republicans have designed 135 other legislative amendments in an attempt to either weaken the protection for endangered species protected by the Act or dismantle the Act itself.
It’s difficult to understand how anyone could oppose the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Created to protect more vulnerable plant and animal species from dying off, it’s a small price to pay to save lives and protect the delicate balance of our ecosystem.
Yet it seems the U.S. government is attempting to systematically dismantle the ESA, with four different bills currently being formed to that effect that are anticipated to be voted on soon.
Details on the Bills That Threaten the Endangered Species Act
One of the representatives spearheading the demise of the ESA, Rob Bishop, publicly stated that he hoped to completely repeal the ESA. Bishop said outright, “I would be happy to invalidate the Endangered Species Act.”
Why are so many government officials, Republican and Democrat alike, against the ESA? Well, when a species protected under the ESA is present in an area that a big oil company hopes to mine, restrictions in the act prohibit them from doing so. In other words, the only reason most of these government officials have to attack the ESA is profit.
Realistically, the ESA will likely not be completely destroyed, because most Americans —an estimated 90% — support it. However, these bills could seriously weaken the hold the ESA has over corporations to protect these endangered species, so it’s important that they don’t come into fruition.
For example, one of the bills, H.R. 717, aims “to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to require review of the economic cost of adding a species to the list of endangered species or threatened species, and for other purposes.”
This means that instead of putting the animals first, we’d be prioritizing profit. The wording also leaves us with more questions than answers. How would we determine when something is too costly, and more importantly, who would determine this? Would the oil companies set to profit from these projects have a say in it?
Personally, I’d be concerned that the mining industry would be too involved with this process, as many oil companies already have strong connections within the U.S. government, including with the head of the EPA.
Another one of the bills is H.R. 1274, which calls into question the science used to determine what species are endangered. It essentially would allow anyone to decide what is an endangered species, or why something shouldn’t be considered one.
IFL Science actually referred to this bill as “science denial 101,” so it’s easy to imagine how this bill could be misused to shift the narrative in an attempt to weaken the ESA’s protection of animals.
To be very clear, it’s not just Republicans who support some of these bills, as some Democrats have sided with them as well. Regardless of what “side” you’re on within the charade that is the U.S. political system, however, it’s safe to say that we need to put our differences aside in order to save the animals at risk here.
Putting the paperwork aside, the life of another being should never be considered less important than money. Seriously, how can you argue that a piece of paper has more value than a living creature? We are so disconnected from nature that it’s blinded us from seeing the beauty that lies outdoors. It’s time that we put down our wallets and reconnect with the environment.
This is not just a political issue, as this entire debacle has shed light on a very serious issue within our value system. Are our moral compasses that broken that they only point toward dollar signs now?
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