Environment Forum

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

Another reason for bats to like Halloween

bat1.JPGHalloween is just around the corner, and it may be better than most years for one of Earth’s most unpopular species: the bat. 

Something sinister is happening to bats in the United States — not only are their numbers declining due to a mysterious malady, but large numbers of them are also being caught mid-flight in the spinning wind turbines that are cropping up rapidly across the nation.

The furry flying critters may get help this month thanks to an unlikely group of conservationists, wind energy companies and the U.S. government, who say they are undertaking a big effort to lower the number of bats killed by wind turbine blades.

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