The Tea Party Hits a New Low With Attack on Endangered Species

The Tea Party Hits a New Low With Attack on Endangered Species

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While conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Act (ESA) last week, Tea Party members were busy working on a bill to gut the act, which will put the most vulnerable plants and animals at even more risk.

The ESA was enacted in 1973 in an effort to protect the plants and animals on the verge of disappearing. It is administered by the (NMFS) and the (FWS), whose ultimate goal is to recover imperiled species to the point they no longer need to be listed by protecting critical habitat and preventing “take” and trade of protected species through partnerships with federal and state agencies, private landowners and conservation organizations, among others.

The Tea Party Hits a New Low With Attack on Endangered Species

How successful it’s been might depend on who you ask, but according to the FWS the ESA has prevented the of 99 percent of the species it has protected since its inception and has helped hundreds of others on the road to recovery, from California’s Southern sea otter and bald eagles to grizzly bears, black-footed ferrets and gray wolves. It’s now protecting more than 1,400 species in the U.S. and 600 foreign species, while many others still wait for determinations to be made about their future.

Even if preventing extinction isn’t enough for some to define a success, 40 years is a small window of time in the grand scheme of things. By some estimates it could take 25 years or longer for a species to fully recover.

Unfortunately for special interest groups, protecting species puts up roadblocks to development, which has led to politics sneaking into decisions that are supposed to be based purely on science.

Last week, Tea Party Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Dean Heller introduced a bill that would gut the ESA and end protections for most of the species currently listed, make it harder to list new species and require that every five years threatened and endangered species are kicked off the list, regardless of how they’re doing, until Congress passes a joint resolution renewing their protection for another five years, at which point they’ll be kicked off again.

“Here we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the this year, and the Tea Party wants to tear it limb from limb,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s really a sad testament to how out of touch the Tea Party has become with the American people, and how beholden they are to industry special interests that are more interested in profits than saving wildlife, wild places and a livable future for the next generation.”

According to the Center, the bill would also eliminate all protections for critical habitat and allow state governments to veto conservation measures that are designed to protect imperiled species. Federal agencies would also be weighed down with requirements to complete reports estimating the costs of protecting species, instead of spending time on working on tangible conservation actions.

“This bill would devastate species protections and open the door to log, mine and pave some of the last places on Earth where these animals survive,” Hartl said. “It’s a boon for profiteers like the Koch Brothers but will rob every American who values wildlife and wild places.”

The IUCN just updated its Red List of after assessing more than 71,000 species from around the world and concluded that more than 21,000 are threatened with extinction. It’s still only a small sample of the total number of species on earth, but the number of threatened ones has been growing and offers us a glimpse of how healthy the ecosystems they live in are. We should be looking for ways to improve protections and working harder than ever to protect imperiled plants and animals for their own sake, but also because without a healthy ecosystem we won’t thrive either.

Hopefully this bill and the Tea Party’s efforts to gut the ESA will be the next to go extinct. Meanwhile, please contact your representative and ask them to oppose the Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act.

This article was written by Alicia Graef for


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Linda French

Are they all nuts? Tea Party no concern on protection of living species, other than themselves!

Anne Grice

Those in the Tea Party would n't know the difference between a shark from a dog so why would they want to protect any living species other than themselves! Look politicians this planet belongs to more than just you so show some intelligence human dignity and grow a bloody conscience and extend your knowledge about the real beauty of this planet because its sure aint this disgusting human race!

David Noel Tisdale Woods
David Noel Tisdale Woods

What do you think the TEA PARTY was invented for by the Brothers?

Leigh Lofgren

I sure hope so, as I'd never heard of this before

Dagmar Batts

that is baloney

Leigh Lofgren

Are they all nuts ? I had not heard of this and let's ensure it doesn't happen. I am getting very sick and tired of these "special" interest groups including the brothers and not let's forget the billionaire stopping the pipeline by giving the Democrats 100 million to ensure it's failure. We must put our world first and foremost and all living things must be protected

Susan Lee

The terrible, extremist Taliban Tea-Partiers are plainly bent on destruction of their own country (from gvn't shutdown" and everything and everyone else. They have become the shame of all America and the real terrorists of the United States.

Delbert Smith
Delbert Smith

All the anti hunting is centered around money being made from the anti boloney. Hunters and fishermen pay tax that go directly into the USFW services coffers. Pittman/Robertson and DINGLE/Johnson acts provide that these taxes are gathered. Yes hunters and fishermen pay to help species they will never hunt! The USFW waterfowl refuge is also funded by waterfowl hunters who must purchase the DUCK STAMP to hunt anywhere in the USA. This money also goes directly to support the refuges. Hunters and only hunters reestablished the Desert Big Horn in Arizona, anti hunters were offered a chance, with the stipulation… Read more »