Defenders of Wildlife thanks President Biden for exercising his veto power today on two pieces of legislation brought under the Congressional Review Act that would have stripped important Endangered Species Act protections from the Lesser prairie-chicken and Northern long-eared bat. The measures are among over three dozen attempts advanced in the 118th Congress to undermine the ESA, a hugely successful law that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
“If President Biden had not acted today to protect the Endangered Species Act, these measures would have significantly increased the risk of extinction for the gravely imperiled Lesser prairie chicken and long-eared bat. We are grateful for the President’s continued commitment to species protection but remain greatly troubled that his veto is the only thing standing between grossly misguided anti-wildlife Members of Congress and the future of wildlife,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “The American public, regardless of party affiliation, overwhelmingly supports the Endangered Species Act and believes it should be fully funded to protect species from extinction. Congress needs to wake up to this fact and cease their continual attacks.”
The Congressional Review Act has never been used to overturn a listing decision under the Endangered Species Act and had these efforts not been vetoed, they would have prevented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from maintaining critical protections necessary to help save these species from extinction.
Northern long-eared bat populations have plummeted 99% since the early-2000s due to pressures from disease, habitat loss and oil and gas drilling. The president’s veto ensures greater protection for the species as endangered under the act.
Lesser prairie-chickens are now only found on 10% of their former range and have experienced one of the most precipitous declines of any bird species in the U.S. The species has declined 97% from its historical numbers. From 2021 to 2022 alone, their populations declined by more than 20%; and, as of last year, only an estimated 27,000 birds remain. The veto means that science – rather than politics – is heeded in this listing decision.