Endangered Species Act
With all the congressional drama happening in Washington, D.C., I don’t want to forget about one of our most fundamental environmental laws: the Endangered Species Act. Passed practically unanimously in 1973 during the Nixon administration, the Endangered Species Act protects our imperiled plants, wildlife and habitat and recognizes that they “are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people,” according to the Act’s preamble.
Let’s add economic value to that list. According to a 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association, the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending, 7.6 million jobs, $65.3 billion federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue. Yet, without clean habitats and biodiversity, we wouldn’t have the privilege to enjoy the prosperity that comes from the recreation industry.
Right now, some members of Congress are promising to gut the Endangered Species Act to make way for fossil fuel development in critical habitat areas, including our public lands. We need the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws to protect our disappearing wildlife and public lands. Our senators should protect the Endangered Species Act.
Roberta Willis, Boise
Kudos to Boise VA Medical Center Director’s superb staff and many thanks to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Director Robert Wilkie for giving those folks the recognition they so richly deserve.
Richard L. Barrett, Boise
Thank you for your article on the sage brush steppe and sage grouse in Idaho. How wonderful to see the coverage, but sad to read half the population of this magnificent bird has declined.
Sage grouse habitat regulation is very complicated, with energy production, livestock grazing and unrestricted motor vehicle use seeming to have priority over the birds.
Whether you agree with my assessment or not, there has been a way to voice your opinion on land management issues guaranteed by the National Environmental Policy Act. According to the National Audubon Society, “the law requires federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service take a hard look at the environmental consequences of their actions, base their decisions on accurate scientific data, and give the public a chance to weigh in before approving actions like logging, roadbuilding, and energy development.”
Unfortunately, the Forest Service is now looking at revising its NEPA regulations, by removing requirements for environmental review and public participation.
Let your legislators know we need NEPA and the sage brush steppe needs to be kept intact for the sage grouse and the 350 other species of plants, animals and insects that call it home.
Elizabeth Burtner, Boise
It is sad but not unexpected, given partisan dysfunctionality, that the entire Idaho congressional delegation remains silent as the current administration degrades the environmental and endangered species protections begun by past Republican administrations and upheld by their successors regardless of party affiliation — until now.
It is particularly disheartening that this occurs in a state which takes pride in the abundance of natural resources easily accessible to residents and visitors alike. Clean air, clean water and thriving wildlife are economic assets. Unfortunately, air and water pollutants do not respect state boundaries, as is apparent when smoke from wildland fires in adjacent states or pollutants in out-of-state rivers and aquifers degrade air and watershed quality throughout Idaho.
Idaho fisheries and wildlife are all negatively impacted when their out-of-state habitat is destroyed or degraded by even the most well-intended industrial operations: oil and natural gas exploration, mineral extraction, commercial development within watersheds, etc., as across-the-board reductions to environmental regulations take place. If our elected officials are sincere when they purport to respect and cherish Idaho’s natural resources as both economic and recreational assets, they should actively step up and protect these policies rather than rolling over in partisan quiescence.
Frederic Abt, Boise
Ever wonder how it is that the leaders of the chambers of Congress can stop something from being voted on, such as the immigration bill from a few years back, or the current legislation the leader of the Senate is blocking regarding protecting our elections? Or why it takes 60 votes to pass certain legislation such as the Keystone pipeline a few years back that had more than a majority, but didn’t pass?
Go to www.make-them-vote.com to find out why the gridlock exists. Our system was designed to move slow, but not this slow.
It is time to demand the political parties stop bastardizing our legislative system to increase their power and insulate them from answering for their votes.
Arthur Bistline, Sandpoint