WASHINGTON — In reaction to a bird-killer amendment introduced today by Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) and passed by the House Committee on Natural Resources, National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold) said, “Rep. Cheney is giving oil and gas companies and other industries a free pass to kill birds with impunity. This amendment guts the most effective bird conservation law that has been on the books for a century, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under Cheney’s amendment, companies would have no responsibility for bird deaths. We will engage our 1.2 plus million members to stop this and any other attack on the laws that save birds.”
Cheney introduced the measure as an amendment to H.R. 4239, a bill written to weaken environmental protections in order to facilitate oil and gas drilling. The amendment was approved in the committee mark-up, and the bill passed out of committee earlier today.
The MBTA is one of Audubon’s earliest victories. Congress passed the MBTA in 1918 in response to public outcry over the mass slaughter of birds, which threatened egrets and other species with extirpation. The law prohibits killing or harming America’s birds except under certain conditions, including managed hunting seasons for game species. The law protects more than 1,000 bird species in part because industries implement commonsense best management practices like covering tar pits and marking transmission lines.
Facts and figures on industrial causes of bird mortality in the United States:
- Power lines: Up to 175 million birds per year (Source: http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr191/Asilomar/pdfs/1051-1064.pdf)
- Communication towers: Up to 50 million birds per year (Source: http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr191/Asilomar/pdfs/1051-1064.pdf)
- Oil waste pits: 500,000 to 1 million birds per year (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16988870)
- Gas flares: No reliable mortality estimates, but an infamous 2013 incident in Canada incinerated an estimated 7,500 birds (Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/7-500-songbirds-killed-at-canaport-gas-plant-in-saint-john-1.1857615)
Audubon members can take action and urge their legislators to vote against any legislation that includes language weakening the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.organd follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.
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