Photo: USFWS / Flickr
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has attacked the Endangered Species Act, saying, “It’s not good industry, it’s not good for business and, quite frankly, it’s not good for the species.” He added that Wyoming “can’t be a zoo for endangered species” and that the Act is not just bad for Wyoming, but for the country.
Mead’s remarks came during a speech to the Wyoming Mining Association on Friday, June 16th in Sheridan, Wyo.
“Governor Mead can’t be more wrong,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “In protecting species from wolves to grizzly bears to the tiny Wyoming toad, the Endangered Species Act has been a resounding success at preventing the extinction of our country’s wildlife. Governor Mead’s statements show that rather than seeking to ‘modernize’ the Endangered Species Act as he claims, the goal is to repeal or severely hamstring it to benefit his campaign contributors in the fossil fuel industry.”
Mead’s remarks come on the heels of a statement by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in December that he “would be happy to invalidate the Endangered Species Act.” Rather than introducing legislation to repeal the Endangered Species Act, Bishop and other congressional Republicans, including Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), have called for the Act to be “modernized.” However, during the current Congress, Republicans have launched 30 attacks on the Act, none of which would improve the conservation or recovery of protected wildlife. Since Republicans retook the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011, more than 258 attacks against the Act have been introduced in Congress.
Changes to the Endangered Species Act are not widely supported by the public. A 2015 poll found that 90 percent of the public supports the Act. More than 70 percent believe that decisions about endangered species should be based on science — and made by the experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, not by politicians.
In order to build political support for weakening the Endangered Species Act, Mead established his so-called “Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative” in 2015 while he served as the chair of the Western Governors’ Association. In 2016 the Association approved a policy resolution to substantially weaken the Endangered Species Act.
“Governor Mead knows that gutting the Endangered Species Act would be deeply unpopular and out of touch with the values of nearly all Americans,” said Hartl. “As a result, he has pushed this sham process through the Western Governors’ Association to try to create a false sense of support for his attack on the Endangered Species Act.”
In February more than 280 environmental, animal-protection, faith-based, outdoor-recreational and social-justice groups sent a letter to the National Governors Association opposing Mead’s efforts at the Western Governors’ Association to weaken the Endangered Species Act.