(Illustration by Chris OBrion)
Members of Congress have introduced more than 80 proposals aimed at gutting the Endangered Species Act this year. Thirteen of these anti-wildlife measures have been added to House and Senate must-pass spending bills. Congressional leaders and the White House are now in intense negotiations that will determine whether these and other anti-environmental provisions are included in the final government spending bill.
When one of the leaders in charge of setting our nation’s environmental policy boasts about wearing boots made from the skins of endangered species, it is a dark day for anyone who supports the continued protection of creatures great and small. Yet, this is the reality of having Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma heading up the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Inhofe was being flippant when he told a Washington Post reporter that his cowboy boots were probably made from “some endangered species,” adding, “I have a reputation to maintain.”
Indeed, Senator Inhofe has one of the worst environmental voting records of any sitting senator. And now he and his compatriots on the Hill have one of the most popular and important conservation laws in their crosshairs: the Endangered Species Act. Supported by 90 percent of Americans and remarkably successful in recovering some of the nation’s most beloved and iconic creatures – including the bald eagle, American alligator and gray whale – the act is under threat of being dismantled piece by piece, and critter by critter, through legislative fiat.