Republican Bills Will Effectively Kill Off The Endangered Species Act If They Become Law

The bald eagle was one of the first species to receive protection under the precursor to the Endangered Species Act in 1967. KarSol/Shutterstock

H.R. 1274, introduced by Representative Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), is classic science denial 101. It would mean that whatever ESA-related data is submitted by the government first – no matter how out-of-date, flawed or simply incorrect the data actually is – it will automatically be considered the “best available” science.

Forget consensus: This bill means that the “facts” about endangered species are decided by anyone who gets some numbers on a piece of paper together, scientist or no.

If these bills become law, then the ESA will be hollowed out. It’ll still exist, but in name only.

This, of course, would be a travesty. Ever since it was signed into law, it has since saved 99 percent of all the species listed as being under protection. Without the Act, around 227 species would have died out by 2006.

It’s worth mentioning that the threats to the EPA are not exclusively coming from the Republicans. Some Democrats too have joined in on efforts to weaken it over time, including Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). His bill, also under Olson’s umbrella, would remove the protection currently afforded to gray wolves in the western Great Lakes states.

The Gray Wolf's protected status is repeatedly changing. Holly Kuchera/Shutterstock

Either way, this is a largely industry-driven push to kill off the EPA. In response, the CEO of the non-profit conservation group, Defenders of Wildlife, told Salon that “Whether or not a species is on the brink of extinction is [a question] of science, not of economics.”

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