Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Which 14 Democrats Joined the GOP to Weaken the Endangered Species Act?

Today, the House passed the "21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act,"which, of course, was designed to weaken this landmark environmental law.

The bill, as Republican environmental laws are wont to do, tries to burden the overseeing agency, redirect its funds, and restrict the role of citizens and scientists in decision-making.

Here's an overview of the bill:
This bill is a combination of four Republican-sponsored bills being brought to the Floor under the guise of increasing transparency in the listing of endangered species. However, their true aim is to create redundancy and force agencies to waste already-limited funds working through burdensome procedures instead of enforcing important environmental protections.
The first bill, H.R. 4315, would require the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to make publicly available online scientific and commercial data related to the listing of a species as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  No additional funding would be made available to complete this time-consuming, costly task.
The second bill, H.R. 4316, would amend the ESA to require the Secretary of the Interior to both submit and make publicly available and searchable online an annual report detailing federal expenditures for lawsuits brought under the ESA making claims against the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, or the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The third bill, H.R. 4317, would amend the ESA to require the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to provide to affected states all data that is used as the basis for the determination to list a species as endangered or threatened.  They would further be forced to accept data submitted by a state, tribal, or county governments as “best scientific and commercial data available” in these determinations – regardless of its accuracy, basis in actual science, or confliction with other submitted data.  No additional funding would be made available to complete these tasks.

The fourth bill, H.R. 4318, would amend the ESA to replace the current standard for awarding court costs, including limiting attorney fees, in citizen suits to a prevailing party – making it nearly impossible for most ordinary citizens to afford the costs of pursuing endangered species claims.
It passed 233 to 190, on a mostly party line vote. 
14 Democrats, however, voted for it:
John Barrow (GA-12)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Bill Enyart (IL-12)
John Garamendi (CA-03)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Steven Horsford (NV-04)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Gary Peters (MI-14)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)

And 8 Republicans voted against it:

Vern Buchanan (FL-16)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Chris Gibson (NY-19)
Michael Grimm (NY-11)
Richard Hanna (NY-22)
Leonard Lance (NJ-07)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)
Chris Smith (NJ-04)

The House voted on two Democratic amendments.

The first was an amendment from Rush Holt (NJ-12) to strike the provision that automatically defines all data submitted by State, County or Tribal governments as the "best available science," regardless of its merit.

It failed 204 to 215.

Only two Democrats voted against it: Jim Matheson (UT-04) and Collin Peterson (MN-07).

10 Republicans voted for it:

Vern Buchanan (FL-16)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Chris Gibson (NY-19)
Michael Grimm (NY-11)
Ralph Hall (TX-04)
Richard Hanna (NY-22)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)
Erik Paulsen (MN-03)
Chris Smith (NJ-04)
Ed Whitfield (KY-01)

The other amendment was from Pete DeFazio (OR-04), and it was designed to exclude scientific information published solely in internal Interior Department publications from the definition of "best available science."

It failed 188 to 227.

3 Democrats joined the full Republican caucus in voting it down: Jim Matheson (UT-04), Collin Peterson (MN-07), and Tim Walz (MN-01).

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