House Democrats provide long overdue funding for endangered species law

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee will vote today on a funding bill for the U.S. Department of the Interior that would provide $355 million for endangered species conservation — a $77 million increase over the budget of last year.

The legislation would provide $25.9 million to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered animals and plants still awaiting protection under the Endangered Species Act. This is an increase of $4.7 million over last year’s levels and is the largest increase in the agency’s enrollment program in decades.

“We are grateful to President Rosa DeLauro for recognizing the urgent need to address the extinction crisis in this country,” said Stephanie Kurose, senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Hundreds of our most vulnerable animals and plants are barely clinging on to survival, so this desperately needed funding could save lives.”

The Service currently has a backlog of over 300 species awaiting protection decisions, including golden-winged warbler, sagebrush and monarch butterfly. A 2016 study found that cash waited an average of 12 years to receive collateral, in part due to a lack of funding. At least 47 species have disappeared while waiting to be protected.

The funding bill is also free of environmental poison pill jumpers, including the sage grouse jumper, which would have kept the charismatic bird off the charts for another year even as it continues to slide upward. ‘extinction.

“Preventing extinction hasn’t been a high priority for Congress in the past, but hopefully that’s starting to change,” Kurose said. “Now more than ever, we need to make bold investments in our natural heritage to make up for decades of underfunding and neglect. We urge the Senate to maintain these high funding levels to give our endangered wildlife a fighting chance. »

To deal with the registration backlog, the Service needs at least $78 million, an increase of at least $15 million per year for at least the next three years.

The House recently passed the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act by a vote of 231 to 190. This legislation would provide $1.4 billion in funding to states, tribal nations and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the primary goal of conserving and recovering wildlife. endangered species early enough that they do not need the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

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