October 17, 2007

Whitehouse Sponsors Global Warming Bill Aimed at Wildlife Protection

Calls for National Strategy to Address Threat of Climate Change to America's Wildlife, Oceans, and Endangered Species

Washington, D.C. – Calling global warming the single greatest threat to the world’s natural environment, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today announced new legislation calling for a national strategy to address the threat of climate change to America’s wildlife.

A member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works (EPW), Whitehouse said that global warming has already begun to have a severe and lasting impact on wildlife populations and marine ecosystems in Rhode Island and around the world. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the EPW Committee, will be an original cosponsor of the bill.

“As the waters of Narragansett Bay grow warmer, cold-water fish species with high commercial value, like winter flounder, have been replaced by warmer-water species, like scup, whose value to our fishermen is lower,” Whitehouse said. “Melting sea ice in Greenland is pushing polar bears closer to inhabited villages in search of food. As we work to mitigate the causes of global warming, we must also take urgent action to address its effects on wildlife, oceans, and other natural systems on which we all depend.”

The Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act will:

§ Set New National Strategies to Address Climate Change’s Impact on Wildlife and Oceans. The bill would direct the federal government to develop coordinated national strategies to identify, monitor, and protect or restore wildlife populations and habitats that are likely to be harmed by global warming; and to protect, maintain, and restore coastal and marine ecosystems to help them better withstand ocean acidification, sea level rise, and other stresses related to climate change.

§ Create Advisory Panels to Share Scientific Research and Advice. The bill would create Advisory Boards, with members appointed by the President of the National Academy of Sciences, and a new National Global Warming and Wildlife Science Center within the U.S. Geological Survey, to conduct research and provide scientific and technical advice on strategies to help wildlife, oceans, and coastal ecosystems adapt to global warming. A special panel would also be convened to look specifically at the impacts of climate change on endangered species.

§ Provide Resources to Help States Protect Wildlife and Marine Ecosystems. The bill would provide grants and other federal resources to help states, territories, and Indian tribes study wildlife, oceans, and habitats that may be affected by global warming, and plan and implement programs to mitigate the effects of climate change on these populations.

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