Endangered Species Act Under Attack – Again

Date: August 30, 2005
Contact: David Godfrey
Phone: (352) 373-6441

How You Can Help

Update:Representative Pombo’s Anti-ESA Extinction bill, ironically called the “Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005,” is on a fast track through Congress. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on it sometime next week. We need your help to stop this bill!

Anti-ESA Legislation was introduced on Sept 19, 2005, by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Cal.). If passed, this bill would severely undermine the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and punch loopholes in the law on behalf of developers, oil companies, and other special interests.

Analysis of Pombo Bill
Problem with Pombo Bill

Your Help Needed Now!

Sea turtles are facing a new threat – right in the halls of Congress. The Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973 to prevent declining species, such as sea turtles, from going extinct, is under attack again from anti-environment legislators and lobbyists for industries that are inconvenienced with having to accommodate imperiled species. The ESA has been the single most important tool in the protection and recovery of sea turtles in the United States and its waters. Despite claims by those attacking this landmark legislation, the ESA helped bring back many species on the brink of extinction – including America’s national symbol, the bald eagle.

Led by long-term critic of the ESA, Representative Richard Pombo (R-CA), new legislation has been concocted that would completely reverse U.S. policy toward habitat and species conservation. The bill will be introduced formerly after Congress returns from recess in the fall. Conservationists, scientists and environmental regulators have quickly labeled Pombo’s legislation as the “Extinction Bill” and are gearing up for a major battle to save the Endangered Species Act. Blocking the “Extinction Bill” could be one of the most significant battles of the conservation movement in almost 30 years.

“If you write or call your legislators about only one bad environmental bill this year, this is the one to get mad about,” said David Godfrey, STC Executive Director. “Sea turtles, in particular, will be devastated if Pombo’s radical bill guts the Endangered Species Act.”

In an effort to get the word out about this threat to the ESA, STC arranged a tour for Florida reporters to visit the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, where the effectiveness of the ESA can be seen first-hand. Since its passage in the 70s, the ESA has led to fishing regulations that save thousands of sea turtles each year and encouraged the acquisition of important nesting habitat like that in the Carr Refuge.

Representative Pombo’s Extinction Bill would gut the Endangered Species Act on behalf of developers, oil companies, timber companies, mining companies and extreme property rights groups. The full language of the bill has not yet been released to the public. However, summaries have been provided. The bill would:

  • Change the definition of conservation, to abandon the nation’s commitment to recovering species on the brink of extinction.
  • Redefine the definition of endangered species so that the species must be endangered throughout its entire range. This change alone could result in the “de-listing” of many sea turtle species, which thankfully still thrive in some areas of their range.
  • Weaken protections for species listed as “threatened” under the law, which would apply to loggerhead sea turtles.
  • Weaken habitat protection, by requiring that only occupied, and not unoccupied, habitat be protected. This section raises great concerns about the protection of critical sea turtle nesting beaches, which are only “occupied” by sea turtles during brief periods of the nesting season.
  • Exempt federal agencies from the requirement to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on actions that might impact endangered species. This provision would eliminate federal reviews of all major beach-dredging projects conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Require the federal government to pay landowners for the cost of complying with the law, under an onerous “takings” provision.
  • Expire the Endangered Species Act in the year 2015.

While all the details of the bill may change by the time it is introduced, the draft shows that the real purpose of this bill is to gut the Endangered Species Act. The ESA has been enormously successful in preventing the extinction of hundreds of species, including bald eagles, gray wolves, Pacific salmon and sea turtles. We must not diminish protection for these magnificent animals or for the habitats they depend upon to survive.


It is critical that members of Congress stand up for our natural heritage and oppose this scheme to repeal the protections that the Endangered Species Act provides. Please call or write your legislator in Congress and ask them to oppose Representative Pombo’s bill that would weaken the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Legislator’s office.

Look up your Representative at: www.house.gov
Look up your Senators at: www.senate.gov

Richard W. Pombo, California, Chairman : (202) 225-1947

  • Fax: (202) 226-0861
    Nick J. Rahall II, Virginia, Ranking Democrat Member : (202) 225-3452
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Don Young, Alaska
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George Miller, California
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Jim Saxton, New Jersey
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Ed Markey, Massachusetts
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Elton Gallegly, California
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Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
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Peter DeFazio, Oregon
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Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, American Samoa
Ken Calvert, California
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Walter B. Jones, Jr., North Carolina
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