Defenders of Wildlife Statement on Senate Interior Bill Excluding Harmful Sage-Grouse Rider

“We are thrilled to see the harmful sage-grouse rider dropped and hope this will be the year to finally be rid of it once and for all,” said Robert Dewey, vice president of government relations for Defenders of Wildlife. “Partisan politics have no place when it comes to species protections and riders that undermine the Endangered Species Act have no place in an appropriations bill.”

Washington, DC

With today’s release of the Senate Interior Appropriations bill, both houses of Congress have now made their priorities for species and habitat conservation for the next year public. 

Importantly, both House and Senate bills have excluded the rider preventing Endangered Species Act protections for the greater sage-grouse which has been included in bills since 2014. The Biden Administration also excluded the rider from its budget request.

“We are thrilled to see the harmful sage-grouse rider dropped and hope this will be the year to finally be rid of it once and for all,” said Robert Dewey, vice president of government relations for Defenders of Wildlife. “Partisan politics have no place when it comes to species protections and riders that undermine the Endangered Species Act have no place in an appropriations bill.” 
 
“This bill still has a long uphill battle through the appropriations process before we can count this as a final win,” said Mary Beth Beetham, legislative director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Sage-grouse have been paying the price of politics for far too long, and we are now cautiously optimistic that science will finally prevail.”

The bill also includes some significant funding increases for imperiled species, most notably within the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. In addition to over $100 million in increases for key programs (over a 60% increase from the previous year), the bill would also reestablish dedicated funding for the Forest Service’s Threatened and Endangered Species program for the first time in over two decades.

Background: 
•    Sage-grouse populations have declined 80% since 1965 and nearly 40% since 2002 and continue to decline.
•    Protecting sage-grouse and their habitat benefits more than 350 other species of conservation concern. 
•    In May, more than 80 environmental groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, sent a letter to key House and Senate committee leaders pressing to exclude the greater sage-grouse rider from the FY22 Interior Appropriations bill. 

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

Media Contact

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Hawk Hammer headshot
Hawk Hammer
Communications Specialist
hhammer@defenders.org
(202) 772-0295
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Robert Dewey headshot
Robert Dewey
Vice President for Government Relations
(202) 682-9400
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Mary Beth Beetham headshot
Mary Elizabeth Beetham
Director of Legislative Affairs
(202) 682-9400

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