Tag Archives: House Natural Resources

HR 2158 “Snakes on a Plane” Goes to Markup

OperatingAirlinesHeader_tcm14-4317The US Herpetoculture Alliance has learned that, HR 2158: Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act, dubbed the “snakes on a plane” act will go to a markup hearing tomorrow, July 16th, before the full US House Natural Resources Committee. Congressman John Fleming (R-LA), Chair of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, is the sponsor.

HR 2158 would allow for greater flexibility in the export of Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus), Indian pythons (Python molurus molurus), Northern African pythons (Python sebae), Southern African pythons (Python natalensis) and Yellow anacondas (Eunectes notaeus) out of the United States.

Currently export may occur only through designated ports as defined by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  When an aircraft departs with export from one of these ports, it may not land within the United States.

HR 2158 would continue to allow for export from 17 designated ports. In addition, it would allow such carriers to make  intermediate stops in other states prior to final departure within a 48 hour time period as long as secure containment protocols are maintained.  HR 2158 does NOT address interstate transport.

Herp Alliance expects that HR 2158 will be marked up and reported out of the US House Natural Resources Committee tomorrow. Whether this bill has the momentum to move further than this remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for updates and analysis from the Herp Alliance.

RED ALERT: Catx Deadline July 31st at Midnight!

redalert_square
CatX Deadline July 31st at Midnight!

“The US Herpetoculure Alliance has just received word from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that we will receive the extension on “Public Comment” that we requested!” ~ Herp Alliance CEO Andrew Wyatt 

The US Herpetoculture Alliance broke the news regarding the unprecedented and devastating impact the proposed “Categorical Exclusion” (CatX) could have on the herpetoculture community. There is no doubt that CatX is potentially the gravest threat herpetoculture has ever faced. It could remove all meaningful due process from adding animals to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act; allowing US Fish & Wildlife Service to arbitrarily add animals in mass. DON”T LET THIS HAPPEN!

Two weeks ago Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt, led a delegation to Washington, DC. Together with our counterparts at the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), we made our case to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

We received letters of support from the Committee Chairs of the US House Natural Resources Committee (HNR) and the Ranking Member of the Senate Environmental & Public Works Committee (EPW). Additionally, Congressman Tom McClintock pledged his support in getting answers from the Secretary of Interior.

The Senate EPW asked for a 90 day extension on public comment. The HNR asked that the CatX be completely withdrawn. We will likely not get any answers from FWS in the next few days. Stay tuned for updates.take-action

PLEASE DO YOUR PART! The Herp Alliance has been working hard for you, now you must take action on the most important issue in the history of herpetoculture! SEND AN EMAIL TO FWS WITH YOUR PUBLIC COMMENT!

 

—————————————————————————————————-

Send an Email to FWS!

***Copy and paste the following template into an email and send it to FWS (making a comment in the comment section of our blog page is NOT making “public comment” to FWS). Be sure to include the subject line. Make public comment prior to July 31 deadline. Email FWS directly:

Email Address: prevent_invasives@fws.gov

Subject Line: Categorical Exclusion; FWS–HQ–FHC–2013–N044

As a member of the herpetoculture community I am against the proposed US Fish & Wildlife “Categorical Exclusion” from NEPA mandates and I would like to support Senate EPW Ranking Member Vitter’s request for a 90 day extension on the public comment period.

This type of Categorical Exclusion is too far reaching and without precedent. It could facilitate the arbitrary addition of animals to the injurious wildlife list of the Lacey Act; potentially threatening the entire $1.4 billion annual commerce in reptiles and amphibians. Not only would it negate due process, but it would also negate legal recourse under NEPA. Categorical Exclusion could potentially become a tool to destroy my small business. Please consider the following points:

  1. The proposed categorical exclusion bypasses the requirement to consider economic and social impacts under NEPA.
  2. A categorical exclusion would not allow FWS to fully consider the beneficial impacts of declining to list a species under the Lacey Act.
  3. The proposed categorical exclusion is much broader than any of the other eight exclusions that FWS has approved under “permitting and regulatory functions”.
  4. The FWS’s “extraordinary circumstances” exception to a categorical exclusion is unhelpful because it does not apply to actions with high economic impacts.

Thank you.

—————————————————————————————————-

Click here to read Senator Vitter’s request for 90 day extension on CatX: 7.24.2013 CatX Comment Extension- Vitter

Click here to read HNR request to withdrawal CatX: PDF_Letter_to_Director_Dan_Ashe_on_Categorical_Exclusion

Click here to read Herp Alliance detailed CatX talking points: USHERP CatX Talking Points 2013

CatX Update: FWS Amphibian Ban!

The US Herpetoculture Alliance has just been made aware of a NEW wrinkle in the whirlwind US Fish & Wildlife (FWS) Categorical Exclusion (CatX) power grab! Sources inside Capitol Hill have just informed us that the CatX is a precursor to the wholesale listing of ALL amphibians to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. CatX, if enacted, would remove most of the due process afforded the rule making process under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). It would exclude FWS from doing due diligence in regards to scientific, economic and social impacts. In other words they could list ALL amphibians, in essence, just by declaring that they are injurious wildlife!

A petition to add ALL amphibians to the injurious list was fielded by FWS about two years ago. Subsequently, FWS published a Notice of Inquiry in the Federal Register signaling their intention to propose a rule. The US Herpetoculture Alliance predicted this scenario three weeks ago when we broke the news of FWS’s intention to secure CatX. It was our opinion that CatX was a precursor to an attempt to list all amphibians on the injurious list without giving due process to the thousands of species that could be affected. Further, the Herp Alliance believes that this would be only the beginning of additional large scale listings of hundreds of species.

Senate EPW Ranking Member David Vitter
Senate EPW Ranking Member David Vitter

The good news is, the hard work that the US Herpetoculture Alliance has been engaged in all year is bearing fruit. The US House Natural Resources Committee has written a letter to Dan Ashe, Director of FWS, asking that the CatX be withdrawn by the agency. Simultaneously, the US Senate Environmental & Public Works Ranking member, Senator David Vitter, has requested a 90 day extension on “public comment” for CatX. The current deadline is July 31st.

Although the Herp Alliance and our allies have made a strong case for the extension of the “public comment” period, it is imperative that everyone make public comment prior to the July 31st deadline. If we get the extension we can all make more substantive supplemental comments, but time is of the essence on making public comment NOW!

—————————————————————————————————-

***Copy and paste the following template into an email and send it to FWS (making a comment in the comment section of our blog page is NOT making public comment). Be sure to include the subject line. Make public comment prior to July 31 deadline. Email FWS directly:

Email Address: prevent_invasives@fws.gov

Subject Line: Categorical Exclusion; FWS–HQ–FHC–2013–N044

As a member of the herpetoculture community I am against the proposed US Fish & Wildlife “Categorical Exclusion” from NEPA mandates and I would like to support Senate EPW Ranking Member Vitter’s request for a 90 day extension on the public comment period.

This type of Categorical Exclusion is too far reaching and without precedent. It could facilitate the arbitrary addition of animals to the injurious wildlife list of the Lacey Act; potentially threatening the entire $1.4 billion annual commerce in reptiles and amphibians. Not only would it negate due process, but it would also negate legal recourse under NEPA. Categorical Exclusion could potentially become a tool to destroy my small business. Please consider the following points:

  1. The proposed categorical exclusion bypasses the requirement to consider economic and social impacts under NEPA.
  2. A categorical exclusion would not allow FWS to fully consider the beneficial impacts of declining to list a species under the Lacey Act.
  3. The proposed categorical exclusion is much broader than any of the other eight exclusions that FWS has approved under “permitting and regulatory functions”.
  4. The FWS’s “extraordinary circumstances” exception to a categorical exclusion is unhelpful because it does not apply to actions with high economic impacts.

Thank you.

—————————————————————————————————-

Read letter from Senator David Vitter requesting 90 day extension on CatX: 7.24.2013 CatX Comment Extension- Vitter

Read letter from House Natural Resources requesting withdrawal of CatX: PDF_Letter_to_Director_Dan_Ashe_on_Categorical_Exclusion

—————————————————————————————————-

***It has come to our attention that another organization is picking up our press releases, paraphrasing them, and then releasing them as their own. We are not overly concerned with this fact, and will continue to do the work and break the news. We prefer to be inclusive and stay above the fray on  issues that are so vitally important to herpetoculture. Emulation is the greatest form of flattery, and maybe it will provide greater awareness to the community in these troubled times. We welcome anyone who can help spread the word on CatX. We need unity in the herp community if we hope to prevail***

HR 2158: ‘‘Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act’’

UPDATE: H. R. 2158 (Fleming) goes to Hearing at US House Natural Resources Committee- To exempt from the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 the expedited removal from the United States of certain snake species, and for other purposes, “Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act.”

WHEN: Thursday, July 25, 2013 – 10:00 AM

WHERE: 1324 Hearing Room in the Longworth House Office Building

***See below for background:

HR 2158: The ‘‘Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act’’ was introduced into the US House of Representatives by Representative John Flemming (R-LA4) on May 23, 2013. It was assigned to the US House Committee on Natural Resources.

US_House_Seals_web1-234x300
HR 2158: ‘‘Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act’’

HR 2158 would allow for greater flexibility in the export of Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus), Indian pythons (Python molurus molurus), Northern African pythons (Python sebae), Southern African pythons (Python natalensis) and Yellow anacondas (Eunectes notaeus) out of the United States.

Currently export may occur only through designated ports as defined by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  When an aircraft departs with export from one of these ports, it may not land within the United States.

HR 2158 would continue to allow for export from 17 designated ports. In addition, it would allow such carriers to make  intermediate stops in other states prior to final departure within a 48 hour time period as long as secure containment protocols are maintained.  HR 2158 does not address interstate transport.

The US Herpetoculture Alliance supports HR 2158, and thanks Representative Flemming for addressing this important issue, and while we believe this is an important issue, we do have concerns regarding the timing and strategy leading to the bill’s introduction.  With the questions of whether five additional species of constrictors will be added to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act, as well as challenges to the four constrictors that were added in 2012 to be considered this summer, the issue of international export and interstate transport may become confused in the minds of lawmakers.

The Herp Alliance expects that HR 2158 will be referred to the US House Natural Resources Sub-Committee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, of which Representative Flemming serves as Chairman. We believe there will be a hearing on the bill this Summer, possibly in the July time frame.  If passed, HR 2158 could allow breeders of Burmese pythons, African pythons and yellow anacondas an opportunity to engage in export outside of the US that is currently prohibited due to intermediate stops within the United States.

HR 2158 will NOT allow for interstate transport! It only allows an exemption for shipments to be exported outside of the United States.

Mr. Wyatt Goes to Washington

Left to right, Speaker of the House, John Boehner, Cisco Systems CEO, John Chambers, and Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt.
Left to right, Speaker of the House, John Boehner, Cisco Systems CEO, John Chambers, and Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt.

On March 13th and 14th, Herp Alliance CEO Andrew Wyatt attended meetings with top law makers in Washington, DC. Recent developments in the federal legislative and regulatory environment demand an immediate and proactive approach to issues of vital importance to the future of herpetoculture.

The agenda included meetings with Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senator Bill Nelson’s Chief of Staff, Pete Mitchell, Senator Marco Rubio’s staff, Chairman Darrel Issa’s House Oversight Committee staff, Ranking Member David Vitter’s Senate EPW staff, Chairman Doc Hastings’ House Natural Resources Committee Staff Director Harry Burroughs, and others.

The two most pressing issues for herpetoculture at this time are:

  1. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is attempting to pressure the Obama Administration into finalizing the ‘Constrictor Rule.’  They seek to add the five species that were left off last January when US Fish & Wildlife Service partially enacted a final rule, but continued to consider for listing Boa constrictor, reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act; and
  2. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will sponsor a broad invasive species bill entitled the “Invasive Wildlife Protection Act” in the Senate for the 113th Congress.  Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) will introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives. These bills seek to add hundreds of non-native species to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act; including many reptiles and amphibians. (This is a re-write of HR 669 from 2008)
Wyatt-Mitchell
Senator Bill Nelson’s Chief of Staff, Pete Mitchell, and Andrew Wyatt.

Senator Nelson’s Chief of Staff confirmed that it is his intention that the Invasive Wildlife Protection Act will indeed move forward in this session. He also promised that the Herp Alliance will be a part of the discussion and debate. We acknowleged that there are likely to be considerable differences in position on this issue, but herp Alliance felt it important to reach out and engage early in the process.

Several proactive ideas and strategies came forward in both Senate and House meetings of how the Herp Alliance, together with the help of our friends and allies, may be able to move powerfully to protect the future of herpetoculture regarding the partial rule and the new invasive species bills. The Herp Alliance is committed to staying at the forefront of these issues to protect our interests. We have a plan and we will continue to stay ahead of the game.

“We have spent 5 years taking control of the narrative on invasive species. We have clearly demonstrated that the science and economics support our case. Now the HSUS is in a position of attempting to rebut our talking points. We are taking dynamic action to stay ahead of that curve.”
        ~ Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt

Special thanks to Herp Alliance’s Washington DC consultant, Frank Vitello, of Vitello Consulting, for his help and expertise.

Federal Exotic Animal Ban to be Introduced Soon: The Return of HR669

Through our very reliable federal sources, the US Herpetoculture Alliance has learned that Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) is likely to introduce his own version of the ‘Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act’ (HR 669 from 111th Congress) in this session.

Senator Bill Nelson showing off python skin at Senate EPW in 2009.
Senator Bill Nelson showing off python skin at Senate EPW in 2009.

Last year, in the 112th Congress, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced her own version of this bill. It was known as HR 5864, the ‘Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act’. Herp Alliance’s federal sources inform us that she plans to reintroduce this bill as a companion to Senator Nelson’s bill. Either or both of these proposals spell bad news for the herpetoculture community.

According to our sources, rewrites of these bills that should be introduced in the near future will and would amend the already overused and abused Lacey Act, 63208ab5-08b1-45a9-b6c8-7dc026a87be0fullexpediting the process by which animals may be added to the ‘Injuriuos Wildlife’ list. The approach seeks to create a list of ‘accepted’ species or ‘white list.’  White listed animals would be considered an acceptable risk level in terms of the likelihood of becoming alien invaders. By default, everything else would fall to the ‘unaccepted’ or ‘black list.’  Black listed species would be added to the ‘Injurious Wildlife’ list of the Lacey Act, prohibiting all import and interstate transport. Domesticated livestock and pets would be exempt.

Because of his high profile, and the stance he maintained on Burmese pythons, it is likely that Senator Nelson will lead the way on this issue and his bill would likely be assigned to the Senate Environmental & Public Works Committee. Representative Slaughter’s bill would likely be assigned to the House Natural Resources Committee.

The Herp Alliance opposes any bill that seeks to further corrupt the Lacey Act by using a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach in adding animals to the ‘Injurious Wildlife’ list. If passed into law, this ‘white list/ black list’ system to designating what is a dangerous, invasive species will effectively end herpetoculture as we know it. It is likely that only a few ‘pet trade’ herpetofauna would make the white list. The rest could be black listed on to the Injurious list.

The herp community has defeated similar legislative struggles in the past. In

50,000 Letters Opposing HR669
50,000 Letters Opposing HR669

2008, together we launched a massive, grass roots letter writing campaign that generated nearly 50,000 letters in opposition to HR 669. Although we were successful in defeating HR 669, we knew that a rewrite was coming. The Herp Alliance believes that time is nearly upon us. Get ready to make your voice heard. We have the intelligence, tools and talent to prevail once again. The Herp Alliance will need the help of every single person that values herpetoculture. We need to activate our grass roots army once again against one of the biggest threats we have faced to date.

This will not only affect herpetoculture, but it will effect aquaculture. It will affect those who work with birds and mammals, and anything non-native to the United States. We need to work together with all of the interests that could be destroyed by this effort to further corrupt the Lacey Act.

Please LIKE the Herp Alliance on Facebook and join our e-mail list to get all of the fastest breaking news, editorial and action alerts as they happen. Tell your family! Tell your friends!

Stay tuned. As soon as the NEW bills are released we will make them available to the Herpetoculture Community, along with our analysis and plan of action.