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In the Press: Bill at Odds With Nation's Values

Arizona Republic Editorial – Bill would have a direct impact on efforts to recover endangered Mexican gray wolves, July 20, 2011 (posted 7/21/11)

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Protecting the environment is a long-standing national priority that has support across the political spectrum. Efforts to undermine that goal should not be slipped into a funding bill.

Yet that is exactly what the House Appropriations Committee did with its 2012 funding bill for the Interior Department and environmental protection.

This bill does much more than just spread the pain of inevitable budget cuts. It imposes changes that will undo things the American people want done.
 
This is at odds with this nation's commitment to preserving its astonishingly rich natural heritage. It is at odds with the proven success of national laws and policies designed to safeguard endangered species. It imperils the Grand Canyon. It imperils wildlife valued by hunters.

The spending bill includes additions that represent an ideological hard line, such as the so-called extinction rider. This provision imposes a moratorium on funding for new endangered-species listings and the designation of critical habitat.

This is an assault on the Endangered Species Act, a law that saved the bald eagle from extinction. This provision would have a direct impact on efforts to recover the endangered Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, and would preclude efforts to develop a protection plan for jaguars in our state.

Signed by a Republican president, the Endangered Species Act represents an appreciation of the importance of biological diversity to maintaining healthy ecosystems. This is one of our nation's enduring values.

There has been no public outcry in favor of gutting the Endangered Species Act. There is no national call to abandon this vow of good stewardship.

Nor is there a public call to weaken protections for bighorn sheep, which have healthy-enough populations to be a popular game species in Arizona. But a provision of this "funding" bill would prevent federal agencies from restricting where domestic sheep can graze. Such grazing restrictions keep bighorns safe from deadly diseases carried by domestic sheep.

Hunters should ask some hard questions about why their elected officials want to prohibit this wildlife-management tool by congressional mandate. Who benefits? ...

Ranking House Appropriations Committee member James P. Moran, D-Va., said, "Oil companies, cattle grazers and miners, as well as those who pollute our air and foul our water, all have their special provisions tucked away in this bill."

The pain of spending cuts is something many federal agencies may have to face. But Congress owes it to the American people to make sure appropriations bills are about funding, not undermining environmental protections.
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Click here to read the full editorial on the AZ Republic website.

TAKE ACTION FOR WOLVES AND OTHER ENDANGERED SPECIES

To send a message to your representative opposing this provision, dubbed the “Extinction Rider,” click here.