Friday, July 15, 2016

U.S. House: Curb national monuments, strip money to protect wolves

Thursday, July 14, 2016
The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to cut back the President's authority to create National Monuments, targeting marine monuments of a kind that Presidents Obama and Bush have designated in the past decade.

The Republican-run House also voted to prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from spending any money to "treat" the gray wolf as a threatened or endangered species in the "lower 48" states.
The actions, likely to be blocked in the Senate, are part of a two-pronged assault that has targeted the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which Presidents create monuments, and the Nixon-era Endangered Species Act.

The amendment prohibiting the USFWS from spending money on wolf protection was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.  It passed by a 223-201 vote.

Wolves began repopulating Washington in remote reaches of Okanogan County, which is in Newhouse's district.  The Lookout Pack was identified in 2008 in the Methow Valley.  The pack survives, although poachers shot two wolves but were caught trying to ship still-bloody pelts to Canada.

The Antiquities Act was first used by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 to create an Olympic National Monument, precursor to today's Olympic National Park.

In 2000, President Clinton designated a Hanford Reach National Monument in Eastern Wshington, protecting a 50-mile stretch of Columbia River that has not been turned into a reservoir.
And in 2013, President Obama designated a 955-acre San Juan Islands National Monument, protecting such renowned beauty spots as Patos Island, Iceberg Point on Lopez Island, and Turn Point on Stuart Island.

The latest assault on the Antiquities Act was an amendment by Rep. Lee Zeldin, a New York Republican, to block future marine monuments.

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., whose district includes the Olympic Peninsula, spoke against the amendment.

"In my neck of the woods," said Kilmer, "(the Antiquities Act) was central to the creation of Olympic National Park and it's a big deal for our oceans, too.

"President George W. Bush and President Obama both used the Act to create marine national monuments and help vulnerable ecosystems in our waters. Like our forests, our oceans are an essential resource that matters to livelihoods and to the health of our planet.  And we need to be sure that they are around for future generations, including for my daughters."

The Zeldin amendment passed on a 225-202 vote.  Eighteen Republicans, including Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., did vote against it.  Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, and Newhouse, R-Wash., backed the amendment.

President Bush used the Antiquities Act in 2006 to protect 84 million acres of the Pacific Ocean in a remote area of Hawaiian Islands.  The monument is home to 7,000 species of birds, fishes and marine mammals -- a quarter of them unique to Hawaii.

Obama went him one better in 2014, creating an even larger Pacific Remote Islands National Monument in waters off Johnston Atoll and Wake Island in the Pacific.

"The Antiquities Act was created 110 years ago," said Kilmer.  "Rather than engaging in attacks on this law, I urge my colleagues to join me and the American people in celebrating our shared history and its 110th anniversary."

Such is the current climate in the House that not even oceans can be protected.


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