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U.S. Representatives Newman and Garcia Introduce Legislation Requiring President Biden to Declare the Wildlife Extinction Crisis a National Emergency

June 25, 2021

The Extinction Crisis Emergency Act would address the wildlife extinction crisis as a national emergency by ensuring all federal agencies prioritize building back healthy wildlife, protecting critical habitat and addressing climate change

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Marie Newman (D-IL-03) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL-04) introduced legislation that would require President Biden to declare the wildlife extinction crisis a national emergency under his authority in the National Emergencies Act of 1976. After more than a century of habitat destruction, pollution and climate change that has driven wildlife species to the brink of extinction, the new Extinction Crisis Emergency Act of 2021 is designed to establish a robust federal response to finally address this crisis as a national emergency. 

“The devastating effects of climate change pose an immediate threat to our surrounding wildlife. Day by day, the number of animals in the U.S. facing extinction grows, creating a national emergency that needs to be addressed,” said Congresswoman Newman. “Investing in the health of our wildlife is an urgent priority. Through the Extinction Crisis Emergency Act, wildlife can begin flourishing again in their natural homes and habitats.” 

Under the legislation introduced today, the President’s national emergency declaration would require all federal agencies to prioritize building back health wildlife populations, protect critical habitat and integrate climate change concerns into the recovery of endangered species. Additionally, the bill would provide supplemental funding for agencies to develop recovery plans and designate habitats for endangered species. To curb illegal wildlife trade or deforestation, the bill would establish potential trade penalties on nations that are not making significant efforts to end such practices.  

“After more than a century of habitat destruction and climate change, we are now facing a global crisis that we caused — with around one million animal and plant species at the brink of extinction. Whatever we do in the next few years will determine and define the future of humanity. We have a moral obligation to meet the moment with a bold response and the Extinction Crisis Emergency Act does just that by declaring the wildlife extinction crisis a national emergency,” said Congressman García

A recent report released by the United Nations found that more than one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction, many within the decade. This mass extinction would have a grave impact on humanity, affecting everything from our water purification and disease regulation to worsening climate change across the globe. That is why this bill is intended to build on President Biden's goal of protecting 30% of American lands and waters by 2030 to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.  

“The extinction crisis is a real threat to our well-being and even our survival, and Rep. Newman’s legislation provides the right road map of powerful actions needed to stop the heartbreaking decline of animals and plants,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Declaring the extinction crisis to be a national emergency would unlock key presidential powers that will halt the unraveling of the planet’s life-support systems, including pollination, air purification and disease regulation.” 

By passing the Extinction Crisis Emergency Act of 2021, Congress has the opportunity to not only acknowledge this emergency but swiftly mobilize to save our planet and ensure the United States comes out as a global leader. 

The Extinction Crisis Emergency Act of 2021 is endorsed by national organizations, including: Center for Biological Diversity, American Horse Protection Society, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, Animas Valley Institute, Athens County's Future Action Network, Beyond Pesticides, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, Boulder Rights of Nature, Inc. , Bucks Environmental Action, Cahaba River Society, Center for a Humane Economy, Ciudadanos Del Karso, Don't Waste Arizona, Earth Path Sanctuary, Earthkeeper Health Resources, Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research, Eco-Eating, Endangered Species Coalition, Fuerza Mundial Global, Great Old Broads for Wilderness , In Defense of Animals, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, Jewish Climate Action Network - MA, League of Humane Voters NY, Los Padres Forest Watch, Massachusetts Forest Watch, NH Audubon, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, Northwest Environmental Advocates, Oceanic Preservation Society, PSR Arizona, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Public Lands Project ,Raptors Are The Solution, RESTORE: The North Woods, Save The Colorado, SAVE THE FROGS!, Sequoia ForestKeeper®, South Asian Fund For Education , Scholarship and Training Inc, TFMPL, Trap Free Montana, Inc., Turner Endangered Species Fund, Western Watersheds Project, Wild Nature Institute.