New York Times columnist Margaret Renkl noted recently that a precious opportunity has presented itself to strengthen wildlife-protection laws and add to environmental protections across the nation.
The Nashville-based journalist said the act, known as RAWA, “is poised to become the single most effective tool in combating biodiversity loss since the Endangered Species Act.” The resolution is carried in the House by Michigan Democrat Rep. Debbie Dingell.
“This bill provides funding for (1) the conservation or restoration of wildlife and plant species of greatest conservation need; (2) the wildlife conservation strategies of states, territories, or the District of Columbia; and (3) wildlife conservation education and recreation projects,” according to the U.S. Congress.
“The Department of the Interior must use a portion of the funding for a grant program. The grants must be used for innovative recovery efforts for species of greatest conservation need, species listed as endangered or threatened species, or the habitats of such species.
“In addition, the bill requires certain revenues generated from fees and penalties for violations of environmental requirements to be used as a source for the funding.”
The legislation, which has already passed the House of Representatives, would allocate $1.4 billion each year across the country to protect and restore endangered plant and animal populations, and protect species already tipping toward endangered status. It is up for consideration in the Senate, where it has already garnered the support of at least a dozen Republicans and a majority of Democrats, virtually ensuring its passage, according to Renkl.
“You don’t have to nurse a fondness for spotted owls or snail darters — creatures at the heart of two of the most contentious environmental debates in recent history — to understand that what is best for the ecosystems we share with nonhuman animals is what’s best for us, too,” Renkl wrote.