Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Salmon, jobs, ESA defended; bad riders linger.

Thanks to today's House vote of 224-202, the bipartisan amendment from Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) has eliminated the anti-salmon, jobs, and ESA "Extinction Rider" from the final spending bill (H.R. 2584). 

Here's a response from Pat Ford, executive director for Save Our Wild Salmon:

"Salmon defenders and salmon businesses thank the bi-partisan group of salmon state members of Congress who today voted to strip "the extinction rider" from the Interior Appropriations bill.  The vote succeeded; the provision suspending key parts of the Endangered Species Act has been stripped from the bill.  The outcome is a victory for salmon, salmon jobs, and salmon-dependent communities on the west coast.

We are grateful to, and we thank, the Democrats and Republicans from salmon states who successfully removed this provision.  We hope they now move forward to remove all other amendments that harm salmon and salmon jobs, and we hope that salmon state Senators and Representatives unite to fight any further efforts this Congress to attack salmon or the Endangered Species Act."

Other legislative threats to salmon and jobs still on the horizon:

Interior and Environment Appropriations Act (H.R. 2584)

Poisoned salmon, poisoned communities (Section 447) This amendment prohibits the EPA from implementing any measures recommended by federal wildlife experts to protect salmon and other endangered species from pesticides.

The EPA estimates that more than one billion tons of pesticides are used each year in the United States. These chemicals, which include broad spectrum killers dating back to World War II, seriously harm America’s endangered species including salmon, frogs, birds, and sea turtles. Pesticides also threaten human health, especially the health of young children. While pesticides in our waterways and air affect everyone, farmworkers and local communities are often at the greatest risk. Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the EPA must consult with federal wildlife agencies to mitigate the harms that registered pesticides pose to threatened and endangered species. 

This amendment prohibits the EPA from implementing any measures recommended by federal wildlife experts to protect endangered species from pesticides. This spells disaster for species that are already on the brink of extinction due to pesticides and other harms. For example, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has found that the use of 24 particularly toxic pesticides and herbicides is harming listed Pacific salmon. NMFS has recommended reasonable mitigation measures such as no-spray buffer zones around waterways to protect endangered salmon from these particular poisons. This amendment would prevent the EPA from implementing any of NMFS’s recommendations, further harming not only imperiled salmon and fishing jobs, but also human health.

The Energy and Water Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2354)

Section 203 - Undermining the Consensus Agreement to Restore California’s San Joaquin River, Hurting Jobs, Wasting Taxpayer Dollars

Section 203 would block implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Agreement, which balances salmon restoration with the water supply needs of agricultural users. This provision would prevent the restoration of flows and salmon to California’s second largest river and undermine efforts to revive the state’s beleaguered commercial salmon fishing industry, while also blocking flood management and water supply projects that would benefit the region’s farmers.

Additionally, this provision would order the Bureau of Reclamation to permanently maintain the river in a degraded state, thereby impacting downstream water quality for millions of Californians. The bipartisan settlement agreement ended 18 years of litigation and initiated one of the largest river restoration and water supply programs in the nation. Passage of this provision could force all parties back into court resulting in a waste years of effort and millions of dollars that are already available - funds that would create water supply projects, habitat projects, flood protection improvements and jobs.

Amendment: Threatening Salmon Restoration in the San Joaquin River 

This amendment blocks funding to reintroduce salmon to the San Joaquin River – a key component of the 2006 bipartisan settlement agreement to restore the river. After the completion of Friant Dam by the federal government in the 1940’s, nearly 95% of the San Joaquin River's flow was diverted, drying up the river and devastating salmon populations and commercial fisheries jobs. Passage of the amendment will undermine the settlement agreement and could force the case back into court. If the court takes over river restoration, water users and local farmers would be at risk of losing water supply and flood management projects provided by the settlement.

Contact Congress Now: (202) 224-3121 - give your zip code

Ask your representative to fight any further efforts in Congress to attack salmon, jobs, and the Endangered Species Act.

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