Interior Appropriations Pending on Senate Floor: TV Ads Oppose Expected Rider to Weaken Endangered Species Act

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(09/22/1998) - Washington, DC -- Conservationists and religious leaders are running television advertisements to thwart a last-minute effort by anti-environmentalists in the Senate to weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA) severely. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho) is expected to try to tack his ESA legislation (S. 1180) as a rider onto the Interior appropriations bill or other funding packages pending on the Senate floor. "Our nation's strongest and most important environmental law deserves a better shake than a sneak rider attack without debate," says Brock Evans, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "The Congress passed the ESA on a bipartisan basis 25 years ago after careful debate and discussion. It should not be changed by a last-minute rider or submerged into a continuing resolution, omnibus appropriations bill, or a flood of legislation at the end of the session."

The ad, sponsored by the Endangered Species Coalition and backed by the Christian Environmental Council, is running on CNN and Headline News in opposition to S. 1180. The ad features the names of developers and industrial logging, mining, and oil corporations working to gut the ESA.

"The Kempthorne bill would be a boon to landowners, developers, corporate agribusiness, and commercial logging, mining and oil interests that want to exploit natural resources and public land for profit," says Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen. "Conservation, scientific, and religious groups do not support the Kempthorne bill. In fact, I don't know of a single environmental group supporting it."

Dr. Calvin B. DeWitt of the Christian Environmental Council added, "This legislation is an attempt by special interests to poke holes in the bottom of our modern day Noah's ark, the Endangered Species Act." He continued, "Our Scriptures teach, through the prophets, against letting our greed and desire to build on the land crowd out others who inhabit it. We are obligated to be proactive in protecting and sustaining God's creatures."

The ESA, signed in 1973 by President Nixon, is America's premier wildlife protection law. The act is responsible for the successful recovery of species such as the bald eagle and gray whale.

The television ad is part of a nationwide effort by national and local environmental and religious organizations to block the Kempthorne bill. Among the striking pictures featured in the ad were images from professional wildlife photographer W. Perry Conway based in Boulder, Colorado, highlighting the American bald eagle and the grizzly bear.

The Endangered Species Coalition -- composed of more than 300 environmental, religious, sportsmen, recreational and other organizations -- says S. 1180 is flawed for a number of reasons including that it would:

  • codify the administration's controversial "no surprises" policy
  • weaken the Endangered Species Act's vitally important provision requiring federal agencies to avoid actions that jeopardize the recovery of endangered species
  • impede the development of recovery plans by requiring costly and burdensome economic analyses.

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Contact(s):

Brock Evans, 202-682-9400 x294 (ESC)