2009 Scorecard Vote
The FY 2009 Omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 1105), included a provision, Section 429, that would allow the Obama administration to quickly withdraw two damaging regulations proposed near the end of the Bush administration that would weaken implementation of the Endangered Species Act and harm the imperiled polar bear. Neither of these rules underwent sufficient public process or opportunity for comment.
The first of these rules would allow federal agencies to decide on their own if their actions would harm a threatened or endangered species. Many of these agencies do not have scientists or other staff qualified to make such a determination. This rule was intended to disallow consideration of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on polar bears or other wildlife affected by global warming, as well as limit protection of all listed species and critical habitat from a host of indirect effects resulting from federal actions, permits, or funding decisions.
The second of the rules would effectively ensure that the polar bear receives no additional protection by being listed under the ESA. Although the Bush administration was unable to avoid listing the polar bear in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that the species faces extinction in the United States by mid-century because of global warming, it instead quickly endeavored to ensure that the listing would have no real effect.
Senator Murkowski (R-AK) offered an amendment to the Omnibus appropriations bill that would have delayed replacement of the flawed rules under the pretext of providing opportunity for public comment. On March 5, the Murkowski amendment was rejected by a vote of 42-52 (Senate roll call vote 82). NO IS THE PRO-ENVIRONMENT VOTE. The President signed the Omnibus appropriations bill into law on March 11 with Section 429 intact.