House Republicans want to ‘repeal and replace’ the Endangered Species Act

After attempts to chip away at the law bill by bill, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop says he’d rather scrap the Endangered Species Act altogether.

The delta smelt, a tiny, silvery-blue fish hanging on for survival in California’s San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin estuary, is notorious among opponents of the Endangered Species Act. Efforts to help the smelt have contributed to farm closures, and water reductions for households and businesses, letting more water flow towards the smelt’s habitat. And yet since 1993, when the fish was listed as threatened, the smelt has only slid further toward extinction, making it an oft-cited example of how the ESA doesn’t work for people or fish, wildlife and plants.

Utah Congressman Rob Bishop is one of the House Republicans who has backed a bill to increase water storage in California and weaken protections for the smelt — prioritizing “people over ideology,” Bishop wrote last year. As chair of the House Resources Committee, Bishop has become a leader of a radical, anti-environmental movement in Congress. Their agenda includes transferring public lands from federal management to states and local governments, banning the creation of national monuments, and removing protections for existing monuments.

Bishop is even setting sights on bedrock environmental laws, leading a charge to completely repeal the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Since 1973, the ESA has enabled the federal government to recognize species as “threatened” or “endangered,” and to set rules and restrictions on human activity to protect and recover at-risk wildlife, fish, insects and plants. The act is considered a global beacon for preventing extinction, and environmentalists insist that the ESA rarely blocks development.

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