Locals Move on Key Wildlife Legislation

Dennis Evanosky    Left to right: Jain Thapa, Congressional aide to Rep. Barbara Lee meets with Chase and Celeste Martin of Alameda, Shaun Sati of Oakland, Randy Post of Alameda, Mirela Stanke of Oakland and Antoine Martin of Alameda to receive a petition designed to re-envigor the Endangered Species Act.

East Bay activists deliver petition to Rep. Lee in Alameda

Last Thursday, Oct. 10, activists wearing endangered species masks and carrying colorful signs delivered 500,000 petition signatures supporting the Endangered Species Act to Rep. Barbara Lee’s staff during her congressional office hours at the Alameda Public Library. They include thousands of signatures collected in the Bay Area.

The delivery is part of the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CFBD) campaign to present petitions to more than 70 in-district congressional offices in 25 different states. Activists will call on Rep. Lee to pass H.R. 4348 — the PAW and FIN Conservation Act — to repeal new Trump administration rules that cripple the implementation of the Endangered Species Act.

In August 2019, the Trump administration finalized rollbacks to regulations implementing key provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The new rules severely weaken protections for threatened and endangered species across the country. The changes, which could lead to extinction for hundreds of animals and plants, were developed under the supervision of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former fossil fuel industry lobbyist.

Congressional Democrats introduced H.R. 4348 to repeal the Trump administration’s new Endangered Species Act regulations. The bill already has more than 20 co-sponsors in the House and Senate. It was introduced by House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Senate Interior Appropriations Ranking Member Tom Udall of New Mexico.

As of Monday, Lee’s office confirmed with CFBD staff that she is also a sponsor of HR 4348.

CFBD is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

“Over the past four decades, the Endangered Species Act has become the single-most-important law for saving thousands of animals and plants from extinction. It’s the reason the world still contains grizzly bears, wolves, sea turtles and bald eagles,” CFBD stated in its press release. “It’s the reason we still have hope that polar bears won’t be lost to climate change. We are calling on Congress to save the Endangered Species Act.”

According to a CFBD flyer that solicited the petition signatures, that under the Trump administration’s changes to the Act:

  • “Threatened” wildlife will no longer receive any level of protection;
  • The financial costs of safe-guarding endangered species will now be considered;
  • Developers will be allowed to bulldoze, mine, drill and log in crucial habitat; and
  • Wildlife awaiting help could face even longer, life-threatening delays.

The Endangered Species Act is the world’s most successful law aimed at saving animals and plants from extinction. More than 1,700 species receive its protection — 99 percent have been spared extinction.

A 2013 national poll commissioned by CFBD found that two out of three Americans want the Endangered Species Act strengthened or unchanged, not weakened. More recent polls show even greater support, with nine out of 10 people polled supporting a strong Endangered Species Act.

Learn more at www.biodiv.us/savetheact.