“President Trump may have pardoned a turkey this week, but he’s in the frenzy of finalizing his bird killing policy before the end of the year.” said David Yarnold, President and CEO of the National Audubon Society. “The government has lost in court and is circumventing that decision with a hasty, corrupt trial designed to prevent the next government from saving the lives of millions of birds. The reintroduction of this 100-year-old constitution must be the first protection priority for the Biden Harris administration and the 117th Congress. “
Today the Home Office released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in one of the final steps to repeal critical safeguards in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). In order to expedite the environmental review, the administration minimized the comment deadline and failed to conduct a serious environmental impact analysis and reasonable alternatives, thereby depriving the public of the opportunity to participate and obtain a full account of the devastating effects of the rule.
“This environmental review process has mocked the public’s statutory commitment and scientific review,” said Yarnold.
Cinnamon and Teal, Copyright Andy Wraithmell, from the Surfbirds Galleries
The government rollback has been opposed by both parties, including members of Congress, more than 25 states, numerous tribal governments, academics, athletes, bird watchers and 250,000 people who have commented on the proposed rule change. In August, a federal court invalidated the policy, which serves as the legal basis for the regulatory efforts the administration is appealing.
“We will continue to fight these changes in court, but we need Congress to pass the migratory bird protection law to strengthen this important law,” added Yarnold.
In January, the US House Natural Resources Committee voted to promote the Migratory Bird Protection Act, a law designed to counter this rollback and add new innovations to the centuries-old law. If passed, the new law would end free industry access to bird killing by instructing the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to develop a “random pick” approval process through which relevant companies implement best management practices and the Document compliance with regulations to further drive innovation on how to best prevent bird death.
The rule change would break decades of bipartisan precedents and extend MBTA protection only to activities that specifically kill birds and exclude all industrial hazards from enforcement. Any “accidental” death – no matter how inevitable, avoidable or devastating to birds – becomes immune to legal enforcement.
For example, if the government’s interpretation of the law went into effect in 2010, BP would have had no repercussions under the MBTA for the more than one million birds killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP eventually paid US $ 100 million in fines, largely due to the protection in the MBTA that would be weakened by the Trump administration.
A report recently published in Science documented that North America has lost 3 billion birds since 1970, and an Audubon report found that two-thirds of North American birds are at risk from climate change.
Facts and figures on industrial causes of bird mortality in the US:
- Power lines: up to 64 million birds per year (source: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0101565)
- Communication towers: up to 7 million birds per year (source: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0034025)
- Oil waste pits: 500,000 to 1 million birds per year (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16988870)
- Oil Spill: The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is estimated to have killed more than 1 million birds (http://www.audubon.org/news/more-one-million-birds-died-during-deepwater-horizon-disaster)