Friday, October 07, 2005

Only One Local House Member Voted for the Endangered Species Extinction Act

Only one member of the House of Representatives whose district borders Long Island Sound voted in favor of the revised Endangered Species Act (more properly called the Endangered Species Extinction Act) that passed the House last week. That was Peter King, a Nassau County Republican whose district includes Oyster Bay, Cold Spring Harbor and the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The sponsor of the bill was Richard Pombo, the California Republican who killed the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act earlier this year.

Needless to say in this era of right-wing dominance, the new ESA would be a disaster for endangered species.

Here’s what the bill does, according to Defenders of Wildlife:

-- replaces the current mandatory critical habitat system with a system of purported recovery plans that are discretionary and fail to protect habitat essential for recovery;
-- allows federal agencies to avoid consultation, resulting in agencies with little to no experience in wildlife issues deciding if projects will harm wildlife;
-- exempts all pesticide decisions from ESA compliance, taking away the ability under the ESA to stop pesticide use even when necessary to prevent extinction;
-- requires the federal government to use taxpayer dollars to pay developers for complying with the law, setting no limits on these payments.

It also removes protections from threatened species, which under the current law are treated the same as endangered species.

In this post, from January, I counted up the listed species in the Sound’s watershed. Endangered: roseate tern, leatherback sea turtle, Atlantic ridley sea turtle, shortnose sturgeon, dwarf wedge mussel, and sandplain gerardia. Threatened: bald eagle, piping plover, loggerhead sea turtle, Atlantic green sea turtle, bog turtle, Puritan tiger beetle, and small whorled pogonia and seabeach amaranth.

All of these plants and animals will still be protected by New York’s and Connecticut’s endangered species laws, but of course those protections would not extend beyond the borders of the states.

It being a Republican bill, you’d expect the region’s Democrats to vote against it, and all did. The other three Republicans from the Sound region voted it against it too – Christopher Shays, Nancy Johnson, and Rob Simmons, all of Connecticut.

The Endangered Species Extinction Act still has to pass the Senate, and I haven’t heard or read much about its prospects there.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Bryan Brown said...

For those of your unfamiliar with Rep. Peter King, welcome to the world of the 3rd Congressional district (NY). Rep. King has cast many questionable votes, including voting for the Energy bill. He also has a mixed record on the various amendments offered to the Energy Bill.

One amendment that didn't pass was an amendment offered by Rep. Castle of Delaware to strike language in the bill (section 320 of title III) which would preempt the authority of state and local governments to ensure that liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities are sited in areas where they do not pose a threat to public safety, and the states' authority to ensure that such facilities are not sited in places where they pose a threat to sensitive coastal and ocean areas. Rep. Castle's objective mirrored the
objective of the resolution that was passed by LISS CAC and forwarded to our local representatives.

I'm happy to report that Rep. King was on the side of the good and just on this amendment. His was one 194 votes to extend debate (including 34 other Republicans). Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated by 237 troglodytes (including 43 Democrats).

One never can never know the true motivation of our elected representatives. I'll give Rep. King the benefit of the doubt and say that he voted his conscience (and ignore the possibility that had there been a real potential for the amendment to pass, he would have voted party line).

But the news from Rep. King's office wasn't all good. He was one of 205 Republicans to vote against the amendment to remove the MTBE liability waiver from the bill (Tom Delay's coveted waiver). The Republicans were joined by 14 Democrats while 25 Republicans voted
with the 187 Democrats (and against their party's leadership) for the amendment. In this case, the vote was much closer: 213 aye vs. 219 against. Rep. King's vote by itself wasn't enough to change the outcome, but it would have made a close vote even closer.

Some more of Rep. King's "independent" thinking:

He voted AGAINST the amendment to ban drilling in ANWR (the amendment failed 200 to 231).

He voted FOR the amendment to to increase fuel economy standards from today's average of 25 miles/gallon to 33 miles/gallon over 10 years (the amendment failed 177 to 254).

He voted AGAINST Rep. Bishop's amendment that contained a number of provisions designed to reduce dependence on nonrenewable energy sources (the amendment failed 170 to 259).

He voted AGAINST Rep. Waxman's amendment to require the Administration to take "voluntary, regulatory, and other actions" to reduce oil demand in the U.S. by 1
million barrels per day from projected levels by 2013 (the amendment failed 166 to 262).

There were many other amendments proposed for the energy bill that were voted on back in April. My list is not complete and only reflects Rep. King's votes on a few amendments that I happen to think were of particular importance. There were other amendments that passed that Rep. King voted for.

You can see the amendments and the votes yourself at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/L?d109:./temp/~bdaYiwo:1[1-30](Amendments_For_H.R.6)&./temp/~bdoMvx

For more (albeit biased) information on Rep. King, check this blog: http://kingwatch.blogspot.com/

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Bryan Brown said...

Update on Peter King...

Yesterday, Rep. King voted for Joe Barton's Gasoline for America's Security Act of 2005 (HR 3893). His vote was crucial in its passage (212-210). According to news reports, the clerk kept the vote open for 50 minutes so that enough Republican reps could be recruited to get this pro-Big Oil, ant-environment bill passed. Thirteen of King's fellow Republicans saw the danger in it and voted against it.

It seems that King's "independence" is inversely proportional to the closeness of any given vote.

The vote is here:
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll519.xml

1:51 PM  

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