Endangered Species Act Overhaul

Endangered Species
On Tuesday, February 4, the House Republicans sought an overhaul of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 that would give states the power to protect endangered species and could curtail lawsuits from wildlife activists.  The United States already has spent billions of dollars in the effort to save endangered and imperiled species.  The overhaul of the Endangered Species Act is viewed as imperative since the U.S. has spent a lot of effort to save around 1,500 endangered plants and animals from extinction, and in assisting with their recovery.

Lawmakers representing different states across the U.S. seek substantial changes in the Endangered Species Act, as it is more than forty years old.  The debates on environmental laws are divided amongst the partisan groups in Washington D.C. as some believe that the old laws have saved many wild animals from becoming extinct.  The opponents to the old law advocate for reforms, as they think that in the name of protecting the imperiled and endangered species, the environmentalists seek restrained developments.   Protection of  wildlife is a necessity if the endangered species are to be safe from extinction.

The heads of the House Natural Resources Committee, Cynthia Lummis and Doc Hastings, along with Republican lawmakers seek reforms of the Act in order to cut down on the number of lawsuits filed by environmentalists, and believe that  individual states should be given the autonomy for regulation and protection of  endangered species.  The Republican lawmakers also believe that the cost of protecting the imperiled species has been billions, while the actual number of the saved endangered species was only two percent, very low.  Furthermore, Doc Hastings, from Washington State, said the root of the fault in the Endangered Species Act is how it was written.  The environmental law reform is supported by many Democrats, however, there are significant political obstacles, since many of the past proposals for amending the law have been unsuccessful.

Grizzly bears are considered endangered species in forty-eight states since the passage of the Endangered Species Act.  Some environmentalists wish to remove the protection of the federal government especially for the Yellowstone grizzly bears in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.  They believe that the bears are striving and are present in larger numbers.  Meanwhile, other scientists believe that climate change could affect the white pine trees, a primary food source for the bears in Yellowstone.  More than 30,000 grizzly bears in Alaska are not listed as endangered species in the act.  The Gray Wolf is also considered an endangered species by 48 states.

The bald eagle is listed as endangered in Alaska and in the lower 48 states.  The government has depleted hundreds of millions in 2007 to save this official symbol of the United States. Additionally, a 1940 law passed by Congress prohibits hunting of the bald eagle.

Furthermore, by the end of 2013, around 1200 species of animal and 877 plants were listed as endangered species.  The species should be listed based on the resources rather than the economics.  The U.S. has already spent billions on recovery of species. There have been several attempts made for seeking overhaul of the Endangered Species Act in the past.  However, the reform was never able to gain Congressional approval, and the attempts were thwarted.  It is necessary to take steps and amend laws to ensure the safety of the endangered species.

By Iqra Amjad

Sources:

ABC
ET
Las Vegas Sun

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