Washington, D.C.

The House Natural Resources Committee late yesterday approved H.R. 6008, a bill by Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), that threatens the critically endangered Rice’s whale with extinction. Rice’s whale is the only large whale species resident year-round in U.S. waters. 

H.R. 6008 would establish that compliance with a Trump-era 2020 biological opinion on federally-regulated oil and gas program activities in the Gulf of Mexico — one that did not sufficiently protect the Rice’s whale — would be sufficient to comply with the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and all other federal environmental laws until the National Marine Fisheries Service publishes a new opinion. Significantly, the legislation would also prohibit the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management from implementing any additional protections for Rice's whales until the new opinion is complete.  

“This bill should be known as a Graves Mistake,” said Jane Davenport, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. “It is outrageous that Congress is even debating legislation that completely undermines our country’s bedrock wildlife protection laws. At a time when Rice’s whales desperately need robust protections to ensure their survival, Congress is playing God with their very existence.” 

The bill would impose significant and time-consuming procedural hurdles designed to prevent NMFS from determining what the best available science indicates the species needs. To combat the bill’s unreasonable provisions, Democrats proposed multiple amendments to reinstate protections to the Rice’s whale within the legislation. The Republican majority rejected all amendments. 

The Rice’s whale is one of the most endangered large whale species on the planet and was only recently discovered to be a new species. 

The ESA is marking its 50th anniversary this year with a near-perfect track record of preventing the extinction of the species it protects. Newly released polling from Defenders of Wildlife shows bipartisan support for the ESA outside of Congress, with 84% of Americans supporting its mission and 80% believing it should be fully funded.  

 

For over 75 years, Defenders of Wildlife has remained dedicated to protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come. To learn more, please visit https://defenders.org/newsroom or follow us on X @Defenders.

  

Media Contact

Communications Director
mdewane@defenders.org
(202) 772-0217

Related

Image
gulf of mexico whale
Image
Ocean Wave

News

Image
Blackfeet Nation Birch Creek - hay bails in foreground
Washington, DC

Defenders Supports New Bill Expanding Investments in Soil Health and Wildlife Habitat on Private Land

Defenders of Wildlife today announced its support for H.R. 8754 introduced by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA). If passed, the Saving Our Interconnected Lives (SOIL) Act will amend the Farm Bill to encourage agricultural producers to voluntarily conserve soil and wildlife habitat on their land by prioritizing applications for projects that would address both concerns under the Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Image
2010.12.27 - Florida Manatee - Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge - Florida - Keith Ramos - USFWS
Washington, DC

Defenders Opposes “Breathtakingly Awful” Attempt to Gut Endangered Species Act with Appalling Rewrite

Defenders of Wildlife opposes one of the worst-ever attempts to gut the Endangered Species Act, the “ESA Amendments Act of 2024.” Sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, the draft bill being heard today in the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries demolishes many of the core tenets of the landmark conservation bill, warps its foundational reliance on best available science and increases the potential for political interference.