January 28, 2021

Congressman Joe Neguse Reintroduces Resolution Calling for National Biodiversity Strategy

Washington D.C.—Congressman Joe Neguse, Congressman Alan Lowenthal and Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Jared Huffman, today, announced the reintroduction of their resolution to create a national biodiversity strategy. 

The U.S. and the globe currently face an unprecedented biodiversity crisis, driven largely by human activity. Recent scientific studies have confirmed human-driven activities are significantly damaging Earth’s ecosystems, altering marine environments, exploiting wildlife and plant species, accelerating climate change and polluting air, land and water. As well, the decline of biodiversity disproportionately impacts indigenous and other communities that rely on nature for essential services. 

The resolution, led by Congressman Neguse, calls for a national commitment to addressing the biodiversity crisis by establishing a strategy that would ideally be developed through an interagency process announced by the president in an Executive Order. The Strategy process would encourage agencies to identify and pursue a full range of actions within existing laws and policies and encourage consideration of new ones. It would also promote accountability and progress in addressing the biodiversity crisis through a new quadrennial assessment.

“The decline of biodiversity presents a direct threat to the security, health and well-being of our communities and our planet. Human-caused activity has led to the damage of ecosystems, the exploitation of wildlife, increased pollution and the acceleration of climate change,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “It is our hope that the Biden Administration would use our resolution as a roadmap for establishing a robust, whole-of-government approach to protect our ecosystems, our wildlife and tackle the biodiversity crisis. The United States ought to be playing a global leadership role on these issues, and with President Joe Biden in office we have the opportunity to do so.”

“The decline in biodiversity is not just a crisis for ecosystems and wildlife, but for the well-being of our communities and planet as a whole,” said Congressman Huffman. “Our resolution would make the U.S. a leader in the charge to ensure that future generations can live in a world as rich in biodiversity as we do today.”

“A national biodiversity strategy is critically important to protecting habitat. From the United Nation’s Biodiversity and Ecosystem Global Assessment Report and other similar reports, we know that human activity has devastated wild habitat and ecosystems on land and at sea. Worse yet, we know that if we do not do anything to correct this now, even more severe impacts are yet to come,” said Congressman Alan Lowenthal. “It is imperative that we work to correct this immediately—not only to protect the world’s disappearing biodiversity but because the impacts to our environment and climate also impact our economies, human health, and our ability to live on this planet. Yesterday, President Biden signed an executive order which aims to conserve 30 percent of our land and water by 2030, a tremendous first step toward a national biodiversity strategy. I encourage all of my colleagues in Congress to support this resolution.”

The resolution is supported by 60+ Colorado-based and national groups working on wildlife protection and conservation. Read the letter of support here. As well it is supported by leading scientists in the field. Read their support here. 

“With a new administration comes renewed hope of establishing a National Biodiversity Strategy,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “By establishing a National Biodiversity Strategy, needed now more than ever, we can focus our commitment to addressing wildlife and habitat loss and tackling species extinction. Defenders of Wildlife thanks Rep. Neguse for his leadership on this issue and urges Congress to adopt this legislation.”

“We commend Rep. Neguse for taking on this crisis. A national biodiversity strategy must establish a bold, science-based, and inclusive vision that repairs and strengthens our existing backbone of environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and also sets a new course for our country,” said Addie Haughey, Legislative Director at Earthjustice. “This isn’t just about the nearly one million animals and plants at risk of extinction. This is about people, communities, and rebuilding a more biodiverse and resilient future. We already know the damage we are causing, now let’s do something about it.”

The resolution lays out key areas that a national biodiversity strategy should include direction on, including: 

  • Setting a national goal of protecting at least 30% of United States lands and water to conserve biodiversity and address climate change by 2030; 
  • Affirming the need to protect threatened, endangered, and at-risk species from further extinction; 
  • Climate adaptation and mitigation strategies for biodiversity; 
  • Joining and leading international agreements to combat climate change, such as the Paris Agreement; 
  • Establishing climate corridors for conservation of species affected by climate change; 
  • The rapid build-out of renewable energy; 
  • Reviewing existing, laws and programs that are relevant to addressing threats of biodiversity; 
  • Advancing conservation in coordination with State and Tribal governments; 
  • Incorporating indigenous knowledge; 
  • Means to ensure equitable access to nature; and 
  • Establishing regular monitoring, reporting, research and development and adequate funding for conservation efforts. 

Background

In his first two years in office, Congressman Neguse has been a leader on efforts to address climate change, conserve public lands, and tackle the biodiversity crisis. Congressman Joe Neguse joined a group of lawmakers to propose conservation of 30% of U.S. lands and waters by the year 2030. In August 2020, he partnered with Senator Tom Udall to introduce landmark pesticide reform legislation to reduce levels of dangerous pesticides to protect farmers, children and consumers. In 2019, Congressman Neguse introduced legislation that was signed into law to protect and conserve wildlife in the Platte River Basin, and ensure compliance of water projects in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska with the Endangered Species Act. 

His legislation, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, or the CORE Act, which would preserve 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado has passed the U.S. House of Representatives twice. Through his role on the House Natural Resources and the Subcommittee on Waters, Oceans and Wildlife he’s advocated for endangered species protections and pushed back against the Administration’s efforts to strip protections for species at threat of extinction. He has also partnered with state and local efforts to protect wildlife in Colorado, such as efforts to re-introduce the gray wolf, and ensure humane treatment of wild horses and burros in the state. He hosted a congressional roundtable in Colorado in July to discuss Colorado’s success in ecotourism, wildlife protections and ensuring equitable access to the outdoors. 

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