Though our offices are closed, our work continues. The need for effective advocacy on behalf of birds and the places they need to survive has not decreased during this global pandemic. We are continuing to work for policies that support people, our communities and birds. For example, we are monitoring the federal stimulus package, public comment periods, and other legislative efforts to make sure that when conservation is in play that Audubon’s priorities and values are represented.
Even now, the Administration has doubled-down on its attacks on our air, wildlife, and health. They have refused to delay deadlines and rush public comment periods, paved the way for oil and gas companies to drill public lands, and are relaxing enforcement on key environmental protections.
In Mid-March, despite calls from more than 20 members of Congress as well as a number of conservation organizations, including Audubon, the Department of Interior closed its comment period on a new rule gutting bird protections in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Agencies across the federal government are similarly continuing to push through harmful changes to environmental protections while America is rightly focused on fighting this virus.
Across the country, Audubon is continuing to advocate for birds and for the public’s right to engage on these actions by the Administration. Audubon’s advocacy efforts helped get more time for the public to comment on the Administration’s plans to undermine sage-grouse protections—the public now has until May 21, 2020 to register their opposition to the new flawed plan. Audubon members and other advocates have already submitted more than 70,000 comments opposing the government’s actions on sage-grouse. If you haven’t yet commented you can do so here.
In addition, Audubon New Mexico filed its opposition to the lease sale of thousands of acres of public lands for oil and gas drilling. In New Mexico, as in many places, the timeframe for public comment was shortened and Audubon staff had to advocate that the federal government modify the comment period requirements to allow electronic submission. And this administration is moving forward with more lease sales around the country every quarter – we’ll keep monitoring and weighing in to protect birds and our communities.
When Congress comes back to Washington, D.C. in a few weeks, our policy team expects them to take up several major spending bills as well as federal appropriations for the next fiscal year. We will make sure that what Congress passes demonstrates that a strong economy and common-sense conservation go hand-in-hand. We believe that now is a time where Congress can show that we can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and protect birds and the places we love at the same time.
While the need for our work remains, we are mindful of the weight of this crisis on our members, staff and volunteers and the broader public. For that reason, we have set a high bar for any requests for action from advocates like you. We pledge to keep you informed and engage you only when we know we (and birds!) need you.