Hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources - H.R. 3086, Global Wildlife Conservation, Coordination and Enhancement Act
Opening Statement, Chairwoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife
H.R. 3086, Global Wildlife Conservation, Coordination and Enhancement Act
Good afternoon. People across the globe depend on biodiversity for food and water, for the regulation of climate and disease, and for maintaining the natural balance and resilience of the earth's ecosystems. Unfortunately, over the past few hundred years the myriad threats facing global wildlife have been intensifying, and the rates of species extinction have accelerated.
In the 20th Century, we finally came to recognize the very serious negative consequences that result when biodiversity is diminished and ecosystem health degraded. For more than a century, the United States has taken steps - both domestically and abroad - to conserve wildlife, preserve biodiversity, and maintain healthy ecosystems. As a result, the United States now is largely regarded as the global frontrunner in international fish and wildlife conservation and our systems of public lands the envy of the world, and our knowledge and technical abilities in the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat admired and emulated.
Despite a record innovation and progress, evidence from the field indicates that our conservation efforts have been at best partially effective. In the 110th Congress, this Committee convened two hearings to highlight challenges confronting global wildlife conservation. The daunting scale of the illegal trade in wildlife exposed the inefficiencies and inadequacies of existing programs within the Department of the Interior, and across other Federal agencies. In addition, our reliance on CITES to monitor the regulated trade of wildlife appears insufficient, considering the scale of the threats and the huge unmet needs for assistance in the field. Moreover, lack of awareness by U.S. consumers on how their purchases form a growing global market for illegally traded wildlife indicates that our public outreach needs improvement.
H.R. 3086 is intended to address these concerns and others. We have an excellent opportunity to work with a new Administration to more broadly engage the Department of the Interior with the global conservation community. The legislation proposes new structures, new tools and new direction to guide this effort, and importantly, new priorities to broadly engage stakeholders and the American public in this effort. It also includes provisions similar to those in Congressman Young's bill, H.R. 3198, and I look forward to working with him on that and the broader scope of issues encompassed in H.R. 3086.
I realize that since H.R. 3086 was introduced that some observers have expressed concerns about the bill, especially provisions that would upset the bureaucratic status quo. Of course, you do not have to be in this town long to realize that the quickest way to spark an argument is to propose re-arranging the bureaucracy.
Nevertheless, this dilatory tendency should not be allowed to prevent us from engaging in a very important dialogue to reinvigorate and re-energize wildlife conservation as a tool for U.S. diplomacy and leadership abroad. To that end, I welcome the views of all, and I stand ready to roll up my sleeves and set to work on the task at hand. We have no time to waste