Governor Lincoln Chafee strongly supports the Endangered Species Act
February 17, 2011
Governor Chafee’s cover letter supporting the Endangered Species Act
February 9, 2011
It is my longstanding belief that the Endangered Species Act is a powerful and effective law. This groundbreaking legislation continues to offer essential protection to wildlife that could otherwise vanish.
Throughout our respective tenures in the United States Senate, my father and I fought against persistent efforts to weaken the ESA and sought to preserve the integrity of a law that is vital to the protection of imperiled plant and animal life – and we humans are part of this divine chain, as well.
With this in mind, I was alarmed to learn that an effort is under way to legislatively remove wolves from the protection of the ESA. There have been previous efforts to legislatively exempt certain species or activities from the protection of the Act; all of these have been voted down, though sometimes by very narrow margins.
Much of what makes the ESA so powerful is its firm grounding in science. The Act contains a specific, formalized process for listing, delisting and exempting species, a process that removes these decisions from political considerations and places them in a scientific realm – where they belong. The Secretary of the Interior oversees the implementation of the Act, and thus is the only appropriate official to review scientific and management concerns.
It is my belief that legislatively removing a single species would undermine the effectiveness of the law and would set a dangerous precedent – one that should concern Americans from coast to coast to coast.
Here in Rhode Island, we have been excited and heartened to witness the return of the Bald Eagle. We have been thrilled to see pods of endangered right whales in the waters just off our shores. These are the types of species that could be threatened next if we allow this precedent to be set. Let me be clear: this is not about a single species or a single state – this is about maintaining the integrity of the Endangered Species Act.
I urge you to consider the dangerous consequences of voting in favor of these bills, which aim to override science in favor of politics.
Lincoln D. Chafee
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