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With Nature in Crisis, State Lawmakers Call for National Biodiversity Plan


Monday, May 23, 2022   

State lawmakers from around the country are calling on the Biden administration to develop a plan to protect the country's dwindling diversity of animals and plants.

More than 350 lawmakers from 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. have sent a letter to the White House calling for a national biodiversity strategy.

The letter includes signatures from 15 Washington state legislators, including Sen. Liz Lovelett - D-Anacortes. She said biodiversity is declining in Washington state.

She sponsored a bill in the 2022 session to protect kelp.

"To get those natural vegetative habitats for your juvenile salmon, and then it builds all the way up to our beloved and completely endangered orca whale," said Lovelett. "You see that in our marine environment, and we've got similar stories of those webs of life all across our country that are imperiled."

The letter was coordinated by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. It says 193 countries have developed forms of a national biodiversity strategy.

Robert Dewey is vice president for government relations and external affairs with Defenders of Wildlife, which is among a host of organizations and scientists supporting a national biodiversity plan.

He said the country is experiencing a crisis, and a 2019 study from the world's leading scientists found up to a million species could become extinct in the coming decades if we don't address it.

"This is a threat not only to wildlife but to our global economy," said Dewey, "to the air we breathe, the water we drink and the medicines we rely on for our own survival."

Dewey said people likely are familiar with some of the five main drivers in biodiversity decline, including climate change and habitat loss.

"Other, more subtle causes of extinction and biodiversity loss must be addressed," said Dewey. "These include overexploitation of wildlife - for example, think about overfishing. Also pollution is a major driver, and a growing threat of invasive species."

Dewey said the Biden administration has put important building blocks in place on this effort, such as an initiative to protect 30% of the United States' landmass by 2030 and the National Nature Assessment. But he says a more comprehensive policy is needed.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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