U.S. lawmakers find something to agree on: endangered species
This just in: the U.S. House of Representatives agreed on something. A bipartisan majority of the House voted to preserve funding for the Endangered Species Act and the animals and plants it protects.
In other legislatures and at other times, this might not sound like such a big deal. Just now, though, with both parties seemingly unable to reach a compromise on raising the U.S. debt ceiling, it’s a sign that agreement is at least a possibility.
House lawmakers voted 224-202 to change the appropriations bill for the Interior Department to take out what environmental groups called the “extinction rider.” This rider would have stopped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from spending any money to protect new species under the Endangered Species Act or to designate habitat that is critical to their survival. At least 37 Republicans voted for the measure, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which pushes for species conservation.
Environmental groups were jubilant:
“It is refreshing to see Congress make clear that the Endangered Species Act remains essential today.” — Andrew Wetzler of Natural Resources Defense Council
“It is a huge relief that our elected representatives today recognized this fact: America is a capable enough country to grow its economy while preserving its precious wildlife and unique natural heritage.” — Marjorie Mulhall of Earthjustice
“In the midst of the worst attacks on our nation’s air, water, wildlife and land to date, today’s vote to protect the Endangered Species Act offers hope.” — Fran Hunt, Sierra Club
“This vote demonstrates the strong bipartisan support that exists for protecting our nation’s wildlife.” — John Kostyack, National Wildlife Federation
The jubilation may be short-lived. There are other riders that environmental groups oppose elsewhere in the House appropriations legislation. Stay tuned.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Rick Wilking (A black-footed ferret at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conservation center in Wellington, Colorado, April 11, 2007)