The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) marked up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which specifies the annual budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The bill (H.R. 5515) includes several non-germane riders that threaten wildlife and habitat, including a provision to reduce protections for marine mammals and a provision to permanently withdraw refuge lands in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge for use by the U.S. Air Force, as well as provisions championed by Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-1st) that would threaten protections for sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken and the American burying beetle.
Statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:
“Representative Bishop is shamelessly attempting to use the defense bill to launch a full-frontal attack on sage-grouse and other imperiled wildlife he doesn’t like, even though their habitat barely overlaps with military activity.
“The anti-wildlife provisions in the NDAA are scientifically unsound and irresponsible. Undermining protections for imperiled orcas, Right whales and other marine mammals and degrading conservation efforts on National Wildlife Refuge lands is harmful and unnecessary. The Endangered Species Act already balances the management of wildlife conservation and protection of cultural resources with military readiness. The riders in this bill seek to strip protections for wildlife and habitat across the country under the cover of military necessity.
“We thank our conservation champions who spoke out against these harmful provisions, and we call on the Senate Armed Services Committee to keep these reckless, unrelated riders attacking wildlife out of the discussion on the Senate bill.”