1991 Scorecard Vote
Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR) introduced an amendment to the Interior Department Appropriations bill (H.R. 5769 - S. Rept. 101-534) to significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act. The Packwood Amendment sought to create a short cut in the process to invoke the Endangered Species Committee clause of that Act.
The Act provides for an Endangered Species Committee, known as the "God Squad," to resolve irreconcilable conflicts between development activities and endangered species conservation. Under the Act, the Committee can only be convened if the federal agencies involved consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and exhaust all reasonable and prudent alternatives to the proposed development action. Only if the Fish and Wildlife Service and the action agencies cannot identify reasonable alternatives that are not likely to jeopardize continued existence of the species, and the Service decrees that the species is in "jeopardy" because of the proposed action, may the "God Squad" be convened to balance the economic and social benefit of development against the value of protecting a species from extinction.
In this case, the fate of the spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest was the issue to be decided by the Endangered Species Committee.
The Packwood Amendment would have allowed the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to bypass these established provisions and immediately convene the Committee to decide whether or not the interests of the timber industry in the Northwest outweigh the value of preserving the spotted owl and its habitat in the ancient forest. Environmentalists felt strongly that the Packwood Amendment would not only spell extinction for the spotted owl, but would, on the larger scale, seriously impair the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act as a whole by setting a "short-cut" precedent.
The vote is on Senator Max Baucus' (D-MT) motion to table (kill) the Packwood Amendment to the Appropriations bill. The motion was accepted 62-34 on October 23, 1990. YES is the pro-environment vote. LCV is including this vote in the 1991 scorecard because it took place after publication of the 1990 scorecard.