Senator Slade Gorton, a Threat to All Marine Life

The Turtle Trax Political Cartoon (Panel 1 of 8, 65K GIF)

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Assault on the Endangered Species Act Temporarily Halted

Because the 104th Congress was adjourned, all bills that had not passed, including S 768, HR 2275, and S 1364, expired with the closing of the Congress. While these attempts to weaken and undermine the US Endangered Species Act failed, most of the Senators and Representatives that supported them won re-election. We can therefore expect these assaults to be renewed with the 105th Congress. We are keeping these pages online as a reminder of what was attempted, and who led the charge.

September 13, 1997: More Gorton Atrocities

Apparently Sleazy Slade wasn't satisfied with trying to wipe out the Endangered Species Act, he had to get rid of the Bureau of Indian Affairs too. Read more about this at the Warm Springs Productions, Indian Territory homepage.

Sea Turtles Targeted For Extinction By Gorton Endangered Species Bill

The following press release was issued by the Center for Marine Conservation:

May 12, 1995


Deborah Crouse
Center for Marine Conservation
[202] 429-5609

A bill written by industry lobbyists attempting to remove protections for sea turtles provided under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was released on May 9 by Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) and cosponsored by Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Bennett Johnston (D-LA). The bill introduced in the Senate (S. 768) is yet another attempt to turn back the clock on important environmental protections and weaken the ESA. This is expected to be the primary ESA bill in the Senate this year.

Sea turtle enthusiasts need to contact their Senators and tell them not to sign on to the Gorton bill.

Sea turtles have survived since prehistoric times, but they may not survive the Gorton bill. The bill (at Section 403) expressly targets sea turtles, marine mammals and other marine species (except fish) by exempting them from ESA protection against being "taken" or killed during fishing and other activities in marine waters.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, as many as 55,000 sea turtles were killed annually by shrimp fishing alone before regulations protecting sea turtles were implemented under the ESA in 1989. The regulations require that shrimp nets contain turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to eject sea turtles through trap doors, while allowing shrimp to pass into the nets. Since the adoption of the TED regulations, many fishermen have successfully reduced sea turtle mortalities, while also reducing damage to their catch, fuel costs, and sorting time.

The Gorton bill would repeal the TED regulations that protect sea turtles. Five endangered and threatened sea turtle species inhabit U.S. waters: the hawksbill, green, loggerhead, leatherback and Kemp's ridley sea turtles. Of the five, the Kemp's ridley is the most endangered. Populations of adult nesting female turtles have declined from over 40,000 in 1947, to less than 2,000 today.

The Gorton bill would also eliminate ESA protections afforded to other marine species such as sea otters, dolphins, whales, Steller sea lions, and sea birds like the marbled murrelet and the spectacled eider which may be killed during fishing, oil and gas drilling, mining, and other activities that occur in coastal and ocean waters.

A staff memo to Senator Gorton, released to the press in April, admits that the bill was written by a coalition of special interest industry lobbyists. Many of these industries benefit directly from the removal of restrictions on their activities that harm marine species. An ethics complaint filed against Senator Gorton by Public Citizen reveals that he has received over $15,000 from fishing industry political action committees (PACs), including the National Fisheries Institute, American Factory Trawler Association, and Pacific Seafood Processors. He also has received over $25,000 from oil company PACs, including Atlantic Richfield, Chevron, Mobil, Occidental Petroleum, Texaco, Union Oil, Sun Oil and Amoco; $43,654 from forest industry PACs; and $21,800 from the pulp and paper industry. In all, Senator Gorton received $31,000 from PACs associated with members of the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition, and the Endangered Species Coordinating Council from 1989-1994, which have for years been pushing for major weakening of the ESA. In a statement to the New York Times in April, Senator Gorton admitted that legislation written by lawyers for industry coalitions with an economic stake in the outcome is bad public policy, but he stated, "I'm perfectly willing to get the free services of good lawyers in drafting my views."

We'd like to say mahalo nui loa to the Center for Marine Conservation for making us aware of this bill.

What To Do

We urge you to write to all U.S. senators expressing your opposition to this bill. You do not have to be an American citizen to voice your concern. Please write today.

If you have not read the proposed Section 403, please take a moment to do so and reflect upon its impact. Try to make others aware of the danger that Senator Gorton and his cronies pose to endangered species, and marine life in general. The net provides us with a powerful voice that can be raised in opposition to such horrors. Don't pass up the opportunity to help. It requires little effort and can have profound results. Act now!

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Status Update: September 17, 1995

S 768 In Committee

After much digging around with LOCIS (the Library of Congress Information Server), we have determined that S 768 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, chaired by Senator Murkowski (R-AK).

Efforts to defeat S 768 are therefore best directed to the members of this committee. A list of the members of the Senate Energy Committee can be found at CapWeb.

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HR 2275 (Young-Pombo Amendment) Introduced

On Friday, September 15, we received the following:

The Young-Pombo Bill: A Death Sentence for Endangered Marine Species!!

Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Richard Pombo (R-CA) have introduced the "Endangered Species Conservation and Management Act of 1995," a bill that will undermine and unravel virtually every protection for endangered species and marine wildlife. Like Sen. Slade Gorton's (R-WA) companion bill in the Senate, if passed, the Young-Pombo bill will cost taxpayers millions of dollars in wasteful bureaucracy and landowner entitlement programs, while taking away essential protections for recovering imperiled species. Please call your Representative and Senators and urge them to vote against HR 2275 and S 768 for the following reasons:

Please call the capital switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and they will connect you to your representatives' offices. Debate begins in the House as early as October 27th, so please act fast.

For more information, please contact Dr. Deborah Crouse or Kristin Siemann at the Center for Marine Conservation, (202) 429-5609.

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Marine Wildlife Threatened by Anti-ESA Bill in U.S. Senate

February, 1996
Center for Marine Conservation

America's most beloved marine wildlife may soon slip closer to extinction if a new bill introduced in the Senate is passed into law. Humpback whales, sea otters, sea turtles, Steller sea lions, Hawaiian monk seals, and marbled murrelets, among others, would lose vital protections under Senator Dirk Kempthorne's (R-ID) "Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1995" (S. 1364). In fact, the Kempthorne bill is even more extreme than the Young-Pombo bill in the House, making it the most egregious assault on the ESA yet in the 104th Congress. Please write or call your Senators and urge them to oppose this death sentence for marine wildlife!


If the Kempthorne bill had been enacted as the original ESA twenty-three years ago, very few of the species now listed would have qualified for protection. If enacted into law S. 1364 will:

How You Can Help Protect Threatened and Endangered Marine Wildlife from S. 1364

Please write your Senators today!

Committee action on the Kempthorne bill is expected to begin soon, so please take a few moments to write your Senators today. Please urge them to oppose the Kempthorne bill (S. 1364) when it is considered by the Senate. In your letters you can do the following:

Your Senators' address:

The Honorable ____________
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

List of Cosponsors for S. 1364

If you would like additional information please call Deborah Crouse, Ph.D., Kristin Siemann or Bob Irvin at (202) 429-5609, Center for Marine Conservation.

Thank you for your help.

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Status of HR 2275: October 8, 1995

HR 2275 is a dense and complex amendment to the Endangered Species Act that totalled 91 single spaced pages of 8 point type when we printed it. If we were cynics, we'd be inclined to believe that this is intentional so that it will be next to impossible to decipher. As it happens, you don't need to wade through the bafflegab to determine the intent of the amendment.

HR 2275 contains the same re-definition of "take" that Gorton proposes in S 768. (See the glossary entry for "take".) If you believe in the sanctity of the lives of endangered species, this is all you need to know about the Young-Pombo amendment.

You can check the latest status of HR 2275 and S 768 by using the House of Representatives Gopher:

You can retrieve the full text of HR 2275 from this Gopher as well:

The House Gopher can also serve up a list of the members of the committee, which you should use to apply pressure where it will be most effective. Phone, fax, write, or send email to these people and let them know that you oppose the Young-Pombo amendment:

Some of the testimony presented to the committee can be obtained from the House Gopher:

We found it interesting that Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, opposed the amendment on behalf of his organization. This shows that not all commercial interests believe in gutting the Endangered Species Act.

Again, we urge you to contact the members of the House Committee on Resources, particularly those who are members of the Endangered Species Task Force. Express your opposition to any weakening of the Endangered Species Act.

The House Resources Committee also has an email address: RESOURCE@HR.HOUSE.GOV. Send them a note and tell them you want the Young-Pombo amendment thrown out.

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Status Update of HR 2275: October 22, 1995

Resources Committee Markup Complete

On Monday, October 16, we received the following:

Last Thursday the Resources committee of the House of Representatives marked up the Young/pombo bill, HR 2275 and recommended 27-17 for sending the bill to the full House, with little change. Congressman Farr of California submitted an amendment that would have stripped out the sections that made marine endangered and threatened species less equal than others, but his amendment was voted down 14-22. Several other amendments to reduce the damage were also voted down. Congressman Billy Tauzin of Louisiana argued successfully not only to keep the provisions that would make taking turtles in shrimp trawling without TEDs lawful, but got an additional amendment added that would make it illegal for the US to require it's shrimp trawlers to protect it's sea turtles more than other countries do.

Thank you to those who contacted their Members of Congress before the markup. Now not only you need to do it again, but ALL THOSE OUT THERE WHO HADN'T GOTTEN AROUND TO IT YET, need to do the same. We will provide you with a more detailed analysis (who voted for which amendments) shortly, and keep you posted as to the bill's movement through the process.

Meanwhile the budget process proceeds with dollar figures which would severely curtail the efforts of the already strapped Fish and Wildlife Service to protect and recover endangered and threatened species. Your call or letter to the White House to request President Clinton's veto of the House Interior Appropriations because of the moratorium on listing new species and 33% cut in FWS budget for implementing ESA. White House telephone # 202/456-1111, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 10500.

Questions? Call Debby Crouse at the Center for Marine Conservation, 202/429-5609.

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Status Update of S 768 and HR 2275: December 24, 1995

A check with the House Gopher revealed no changes in the status of either of these bills since our last check in October. This does not mean that activity is not taking place behind the scenes, so please do not assume that your letter or message is no longer needed. We cannot relax until these bills are dropped for good.

We are finding more and more reports in the media that the Republicans leading the charge to dismantle the Endangered Species Act do not have the support of the majority of their constituents for these actions. If you voted for a senator or representative who has signed onto one of these bills, make your opposition known. Your opinion is particularly important.

Anyone wishing to keep a closer eye on these bills and other environmental actions should visit EcoNet's Endangered Species page, or keep a watch on ESA Today.

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Status Update of S 768, HR 2275, and S 1364: March 2, 1996

Today LOCIS, the Library of Congress Information Server, reports the following:

S 768

                               *SENATE ACTIONS*
May  9, 95  Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public

HR 2275

                                *HOUSE ACTIONS*
Sep  7, 95  Referred to the Committee on Resources, and in addition to the
            Committee on Agriculture, for a period to be subsequently
            determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such
            provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee
Sep  8, 95  Referred to the Subcommittee on Resource Conservation,
            Research and Forestry.
Sep  7, 95  Referred to the Committee on Resources, and in addition to the
            Committee on Agriculture, for a period to be subsequently
            determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such
            provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee
Sep 20, 95  Committee Hearings Held.
Oct 12, 95  Executive Comment Received From Justice.
Oct 12, 95  Committee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.
Oct 12, 95  Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 27 -
Oct 12, 95  Executive Comment Received From Justice.

S 1364

                                *SENATE ACTIONS*
Oct 26, 95  Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public

You have to love some things about the U.S. of A. Anyone can drop in to the Library of Congress and get the status of bills before Congress.

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