October 20, 2008

Whitehouse to Co-Chair Organization Promoting Conservation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) announced today that he will become a co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), a partnership that promotes stronger American leadership in efforts to conserve natural resources around the world.

“Coming from the Ocean State of Rhode Island, I feel the importance of protecting our natural resources so that our children can enjoy them as we have,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. “The ICCF works to build international support to protect the Earth’s richest and most diverse places, and I am proud to be a part of its important mission.”

The ICCF works to establish a consensus on international conservation policy across party lines, and between the public and private sectors, to increase the scale and effectiveness of U.S. government support for good natural resource management worldwide. Its Advisory Council is made up of four of the largest non-governmental organizations committed to conservation: Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund. As a co-chair, Whitehouse will work to raise awareness of conservation issues in Congress to help make global conservation a priority in the United States and abroad.

“Senator Whitehouse’s dedication to environmental conservation and particularly species protection has been a most welcome voice in the U.S. Senate,” said Lisa Handy, Senior Director for U.S. Government Affairs at Conservation International. “He is a wonderful addition to the leadership of the International Conservation Caucus and we look forward to working with him to advance these important issues.”

Bob Bendick, Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy, said, “We greatly appreciate Senator Whitehouse’s willingness to serve as co-chair of the caucus. He is a strong supporter of conservation with a particular interest in marine and coastal issues. We very much look forward to working with him on advancing the understanding in congress of the importance of conservation around the world.”

In his first two years in the Senate, Whitehouse has established a strong record on environmental conservation and protection. He sponsored the Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act (S. 2204), to help wildlife adapt to and survive the impacts from global warming, and he was an original cosponsor of the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 1870) to restore essential environmental protections ensuring communities and wildlife have access to clean and safe water supplies. As a member of the EPW Committee, Whitehouse has also helped lead the Committee’s investigation into political interference at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“As a powerful voice for the environment within the U.S. Senate and a champion of global priority species, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is a wonderful addition to the leadership of the International Conservation Caucus. On behalf of the Wildlife Conservation Society, we are delighted that Senator Whitehouse is joining Sens. Durbin (D-IL), Brownback (R-KS) and Snowe (R-ME) as the newest co-chair of the caucus,” said John F. Calvelli, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Whitehouse received a perfect score of 100 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) on its 2008 National Environmental Scorecard, an analysis of key votes during a session of Congress as decided by experts from 20 environmental and conservation organizations. Last week, Restore America’s Estuaries gave Whitehouse its 2008 “Coastal Habitat Restoration Champion Award” in recognition of his work to focus attention on the needs of coastal and estuarine habitats.

“In just his first term in Congress, Senator Whitehouse has already established himself as a true leader on environmental issues here and abroad,” said Jason Patlis, Vice President for Government Relations at the World Wildlife Fund. “His leadership on solving the most pressing and complex environmental challenges of our time — including climate change, species conservation and marine stewardship — will be even further enhanced in his new role as co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus.”

The ICCF was founded in 2003 by Representatives Clay Shaw (R-FL), John Tanner (D-TN), Ed Royce (R-CA), and Tom Udall (D-NM). Their goal was to help the United States lead international partnerships that steward natural resources for habitat and bio-diversity protection, poverty reduction, economic development and regional security.

ICCF holds a Congressional Briefings Series to inform Members of Congress and their staff about conservation issues. Past briefings have covered issues ranging from the “Interconnectedness of Human, Wildlife, and Livestock Health” to the “Tiger Crisis in India.” The organization also hosts an annual Conservation Gala to recognize notable achievements in conservation.


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