Thursday, April 19, 2018

Farm Bill Reduces Endangered Species Protections

Well, it seems the current House farm bill draft is getting more controversial day by day. For example, in addition to proposed changes to the nutrition programs, the draft bill includes a provision that would allow EPA to approve pesticides without undertaking reviews now required to protect endangered species. As expected, environmental groups are up in arms and argue that the provision is an “unprecedented” attack that could have lasting ramifications for ecosystems across the nation. Their concern is that the bill would allow the EPA to skip consultations with agencies that include the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which oversee the implementation of Endangered Species Act protections. “This removes the requirement to bring in the expert agencies,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. She said it would gut protections for endangered species. But Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee see the language as a “commonsense reforms” to an “onerous and conflicting” consultation process that needs to be modernized, according to a summary provided by the panel’s majority. “We're trying to streamline that process,” House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told the press. “EPA doesn't have the resources to do a species-by-species deal, so we're trying to figure out a way to protect species, but also being able to get the crop protection things [pesticides] in place. The current system works to the advantage of people who don't want anything to happen.” The committee is scheduled to mark up the bill today...MORE(SCROLL DOWN)

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