GOP Congress leaves little mark on environmental law

If ever there was a time to worry about the future of wildlife and our natural environment, it was at the beginning of 2006 with Congress full of anti-conservation Republicans. Republicans weren’t always that way, but over the years that had become the water carriers for all the extractive and abusive industries as well as those religionists who believe the end is near, so trash the planet.

Their plans for gutting the laws protecting land, water, air, and wildlife were largely defeated. Bettian Boxall discusses it in the Los Angeles Times (here reprinted in the Jackson Hole Star Tribune). “GOP Congress leaves little mark on environmental law.”

An uprising of grassroots Americans, including traditional hunters and anglers made much of the difference.

The major threat in the near term is now the Bush Administration which has the power to rewrite the rules and regulations derived from existing laws. They are doing it at furious paste because they suspect their days are numbered. New rules on grazing and national forest planning are just some of the areas where they are active. Fortunately the grazing changes have been stalled for now in the federal courts. I was very pleased to be the lead plaintiff in one of these cases.

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund wants to kill thousands of Yellowstone area bison and elk

The powerful livestock organization R-CALF has written to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture urging that a program be implemented to rid the Greater Yellowstone area of brucellosis. This includes Yellowstone Park. The means they suggest for doing this are draconian.

According to a story today by Brodie Farquhar in the Casper Star Tribune they include:

  • Mandate brucellosis testing of bison in the Yellowstone ecosystem.
  • Work toward eradication of brucellosis in Yellowstone bison by multiple means, including but not limited to trapping, testing and vaccinating bison in that area.
  • Work with the National Park Service and USDA Wildlife Services to control the size of bison and elk herds in the Yellowstone ecosystem.
  • Continue brucellosis testing, vaccination and surveillance where it already occurs and implement surveillance in all states where cattle are present.
  • Maintain a national brucellosis surveillance/vaccination program for livestock disease traceback purposes.
  • Redirect funding for an animal ID program to pay for ongoing and existing brucellosis surveillance/vaccination programs.

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