By Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife
Rep. Doc Hastings recently released a report and a set of proposals that would effectively gut the Endangered Species Act (ESA), severely curtailing the act’s ability to protect the nation’s most imperiled species. He calls it ESA “reform,” but the real goal of Rep. Hastings’ proposals is to drastically weaken or eliminate key protections in the ESA, long a goal of corporate special interests and polluters.
If you think that you have seen this “movie” before, you have. Just like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I feel like I have relived this ESA “reform” moment numerous times before. While the lead characters may differ, the script is always the same. About every six years or so, some anti-environmental member of Congress decides that the time has come to “reform” the ESA into oblivion. Lest they be accused of championing the extinction of manatees or whooping cranes, they always first profess their deep love and support for endangered species, never hesitating to list some of the most beloved charismatic ones. Then they roll up their sleeves and lay out their plans for a step-by-step dismantling of the law.