Murkowski warns against Endangered Species Act rider
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today called for the removal of a rider added to the spending bill that would authorize the Department of the Interior to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The omnibus appropriations bill currently before Congress includes language that would allow President Obama to rescind the current rule under the Endangered Species Act – which states that if an activity is permissible under the stricter standards imposed by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is also permissible under the Endangered Species Act with respect to the polar bear.
The existing rule permits federal agencies to determine whether a specific activity is likely to adversely affect endangered species and therefore requires further scientific review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries services.
“This is an enormously important and dangerous change to the existing law,” Murkowski said. “It’s a backdoor attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that poses a serious threat to our nation’s economic recovery.”
The proposed rule change could mean that any emitter of greenhouse gas could be regulated in the name of protecting polar bear habitat. This could effectively block development, not only in the Arctic but also of any project across the country that environmentalists object to.
While this obviously has impacts on fossil fuel emissions, it could have an affect on agriculture, construction and every other human activity across the country.
“Inserting a rider with far-reaching policy implementations for climate change and energy production without the slightest bit of debate is not good public policy,” Murkowski said. “This would remove transparency and public scrutiny from the process of regulating greenhouse gas emissions.”
“I believe we must act to curb emissions, but this would grant some of the most aggressive in the environmental community the ability to use the courts to block economic development across the country,” Murkowski said.
The existing rule guarantees that development activities in the Arctic and Alaska Natives subsistence use of the polar bear can be permitted so long as they have no over-all impact on the health of the polar bear population.
“The Endangered Species Act was never intended to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. This type of misuse of the law ultimately undermines public support for the act itself,” Murkowski said. “If we allow this change, it is only a matter of time before the environmental community uses lawsuits to reduce the quality of our way of life.”