Representative Zinke Endorses Plan to Gut Endangered Species Protections in California

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No doubt looking out for certain constituents in Santa Barbara, Representative Zinke has signed on as one of 28 co-sponsors to an anti-science bill that seeks to blame the water shortage in California on environmental policy, not its actual causes: climate change and the cyclical droughts that are part of California.

The bill, introduced by California’s David Valadao, is, according to The Hill, “meant to directly confront a common Republican refrain: That environmentalists — and the federal government’s environmental policies — are to blame for the last four years of drought not just in California but elsewhere in the west.”

What Zinke has signed off on should sound familiar, as it is an attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act, harm the public’s right to know and have input, and damage both wildlife and jobs. From Doug Obegi at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Despite the fact that California’s ongoing drought, not environmental protections, is the cause of low water supplies for farms, cities, and the environment, some in Congress are seeking to use the drought to weaken state and federal environmental protections for California’s rivers, the Bay-Delta estuary, and our native fisheries and the thousands of fishing jobs that depend on them. Today, Members of the House of Representatives will introduce legislation that would overturn protections for California salmon and other native species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), limit the public’s rights to be informed about the impacts of harmful new dams under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and preempt state laws that require restoration of the San Joaquin River.

According to senior water scientist Jay Famigletti, from the California Institute of Technology:

“There is zero truth to any argument that attempts to characterize the current California drought as man-made,” he said. “All you need to do is look at up the mountains and realize that there is no snow, look at the reservoirs and see that they are nearly empty, and look at last January to see that it was the driest on record. A lack of infrastructure is not the issue when there is nothing to put in it.”

For someone who likes to run around arguing that he’s a “Teddy Roosevelt” Republican, Mr. Zinke sure seems interested in rolling back environmental protections and signing off on proposals that are not solutions to the underlying crisis. What would Teddy Roosevelt have to say about that? Hell, what would Ryan Zinke from five years ago have to say?

This:

“Our nation’s most respected military leaders recognize that climate change is a threat multiplier for instability in the most volatile regions of the world. The climate change threat presents significant national security challenges for the United States – challenges that should be addressed today, because they will almost certainly get worse if we delay.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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