The Endangered Species Act turns out to be popular among voters, and in a positive way, according to a recent survey.
Ninety percent of those polled say they support the act, according to a survey conducted by Tulchin Research for Defenders of Wildlife and Earthjustice. In addition, nearly three-fourths of those polled say decisions about listings should be made by biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, not politicians.
Since January, said Robert Dewey, vice president for government affairs at Defenders of Wildlife, more than 50 proposals have been made in Congress to weaken the Endangered Species Act or eliminate protections for specific species.
"The poll results are a strong rejection of congressional efforts to politicize endangered-species protection," he said. "These decisions should be made by agency biologists, based on science. Clearly, an overwhelming majority of the American public agrees."
There are 36 animals and 10 plants in Kentucky listed as either endangered or threatened. Two-thirds of those surveyed rejected the reasoning that listing a species means a trade-off of job losses or economic harm. Less than one-fourth agreed with critics that the act hurts the economy and destroys jobs. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.
Dewey said he hopes the poll results will serve as a wake-up call to members of the House, demonstrating that the public doesn't agree with moves to dismantle the act and won't stand for it.
"This torrent of new attacks shows that Congress is pursuing an agenda that mirrors more the wishes of big oil, timber, mining companies and other development interests rather than the American public," he said.
The Interior-Environment appropriations bill under consideration in the House contains 25 "riders" targeted at the Endangered Species Act.