PAWS Magazine

Issue 36, Winter 1998

Endangered Species Need Your Help

by Chuck Lennox

Our nation’s premier wildlife protection law, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the many species and habitats it seeks to protect, are under attack. Though we are currently losing fish, wildlife, and plants unique to America at an alarming rate, the U.S. Senate is poised to consider a bill that would fundamentally weaken the ESA, cutting the fragile safety net that supports the bald eagle, gray wolf, and blue whale.

S.1180, introduced September 16, 1997 by Senators Kempthorne, Chafee, Baucus, and Reid is being pushed through the Senate with little opportunity for meaningful review or amendment.

Conservation organizations strongly oppose S.1180 because it:

Limits agency review of federal projects that may harm endangered species.

Erects roadblocks to key ESA protections of listing and recovery planning.

Offers guarantees for land owners at the expense of wildlife through the "No Surprises" policy.

Thanks to pressure from citizens and conservation groups, the Clinton administration imposed a two-month moratorium on the "No Surprises" policy. This comes in response to a lawsuit that says the Interior Department never formally adopted the "No Surprises" policy and therefore can’t legally enforce it. This is only a brief respite.

Representative George Miller has introduced an innovative bill, the Endangered Species Recovery Act, H.R. 2351, based in large part on the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences. Miller’s bill focuses on preventing species decline before they become endangered and promoting the recovery of species to healthy populations so that they can be removed from the endangered species list.

How you can help:

Contact Senators Murray and Gorton to express your opposition to S.1180. Tell them that you support the reauthorization of a strong ESA. It is imperative to get support. For a Senate version of H.R. 2351—Endangered Species Recovery Act. The Kempthorne ESA bill (S.1180) would put into law the "No Surprises" policy. Urge Senators Murray and Gorton to vote NO on S.1180 if it comes to a floor vote.

Contact your Representative and ask him/her to support H.R. 2351, the Endangered Species Recovery Act. Representatives Jim McDermott, Norm Dicks, and Adam Smith are co-sponsors. The addresses and telephone numbers for Senators and Representatives are on page 15 of this issue.

Chuck Lennox is the Chair of the Endangered Species Act Coalition of Washington State and the Conservation Chair of Seattle Audobon Society. For more information, call (206) 720-4928 or email

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