Conservation Friday: Environmental legislation you should care about

It has become common practice among science bloggers to do some sort of Friday wrap up of the week (e.g. Dynamic Ecology, Small Pond Science). I think this is a great idea, but honestly, I would not have much to add to the already long lists of things to check out. Rather, I realized that through my sci-policy postdoc, I have been creating my own Friday list all year.

Part of my job at the USFWS is to create a document at the end of each week that summarizes what legislative and Congressional happenings went on that previous week. A big part is to look into ongoing legislation and provide a list of introduced bills. Now, I understand that this sounds incredibly exciting, and believe me, trudging through the list of bills can be mind-numbingly boring, but it’s a really valuable tool to know what’s going on in our country and how members of Congress are trying to promote or destroy the environment. So, as my time as a fellow comes to an end (more on that later), I will continue my weekly roundup of enviro- and sci-related legislation on here (in a slightly more palatable form). *

*Also, there is some really interesting non-enviro/sci legislation out there that I’ll throw in just for kicks.


H.R.3 : Keystone XL Pipeline Act
S.1 : Keystone XL Pipeline Act
What: We all know about this.
Importance: Republicans first order of business after the failed attempt last Congress. Too bad the Administration has already issued a formal veto threat.

H.R.211 : To amend the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to authorize assignment to States of Federal agency environmental review responsibilities, and for other purposes.
What: NEPA is a big deal. It basically created laws that enhance environmental health and established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.
Importance: While the text of the legislation has yet to be provided, any alteration to NEPA is worth attention.

H.R.223 : To authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and for other purposes.
What: The GLRI is a massive, multi-agency effort to restore and keep the Great Lakes healthy. 
Importance: This would basically fund the GLRI to ensure the protection of the Great Lakes.

S.27 : A bill to make wildlife trafficking a predicate offense under racketeering and money laundering statutes and the Travel Act, to provide for the use for conservation purposes of amounts from civil penalties, fines, forfeitures, and restitution under such statutes based on such violations, and for other purposes.
What: The prevention of wildlife trafficking has become a major area of interest for the USFWS in the past years, with the largest focus on the trafficking of ivory.
Importance: This legislation broadens the scope under which wildlife trafficking is a crime, making the penalties for such actions more severe in an effort to discourage the practice. 

S.61 : A bill to provide for the conveyance of certain National Forest System land in the State of Louisiana.
What: There are often bills of this nature that would take Federal lands and allow them to be sold to some entity.
Importance: Usually, the land in question is a national forest, park, or refuge. Not ideal for wildlife. 

S.66 : A bill to prohibit any regulation regarding carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the United States until China, India, and Russia implement similar reductions.
What: Fairly self explanatory.
Importance: Basically making the argument that we shouldn’t be a leader on this issue and should only follow after other nations take the initiative.

S.90 : A bill to amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to authorize hunting under certain circumstances.
What: The MBTA is often a point of contention between the USFWS and some members of Congress. It is a major bill that prohibits the killing of many avian species. 
Importance: There are often requests to relax the provisions of the MBTA, including this current bill.

S.112 : A bill to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to require the Secretary of the Interior to publish and make available for public comment a draft economic analysis at the time a proposed rule to designate critical habitat is published.
What: The ESA is possibly the most contentious piece of legislation as regarded by the House Committee on Natural Resources. There is an ESA hearing roughly every few months and countless pieces of legislation introduced to try and relax or dismantle the law.
Importance: This is already done.

Random Legislation

An overall observation I’ve made is that there are a lot of bills that would rename post offices across the country. To heck with that Nature paper or the interview from NPR, I know that I made it when my name is place above the entrance to my hometown post office. 


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