News & Action

New Invasive Species Bill Introduced, NECIS Comments

Another proposal to address invasive species  has been brought forward at the national level, demonstrating the need for decision-makers to act on invasive species challenges. Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) recently introduced a bill to direct land management agencies to plan and carry out activities to control and manage invasive species on federal lands.

H.R. 3994, the “Federal Lands Invasive Species Control and Management Act,” is the latest in a series of legislative proposals to acknowledge the urgency of preventing and slowing the spread of harmful non-native plant and animal species.  The National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS) took the opportunity to review and comment on H.R. 3994 in an effort to improve our national approach and build on the momentum that this bill and others have generated.

Although NECIS supports the underlying goal of the bill, that is, to improve the effectiveness and overall scope of on-the-ground invasive species management and control projects on federal lands, the coalition also has a couple significant concerns about specific approaches laid out in H.R. 3994.  These concerns are laid out in the attached letter.

The bill does illustrate the critical importance of the stewardship of our federal lands (and surrounding areas) in controlling and eradicating extremely harmful invasive species such as noxious weeds.  What everyone can agree on is that funding and resources for land management agencies is not adequate enough to tackle the spread of invasive species on-and-off our public lands, and there is a need for a strategic and accountable implementation of eradication and control techniques.

The concerns and recommendations laid out by NECIS will hopefully improve the legislation, and it would be major progress to see several invasive species prevention and control proposals move forward together in a complementary fashion in the 113th Congress and beyond.  NECIS has laid out a full vision of a comprehensive national strategy that combines the need for on-the-ground treatments with the closing down of invasion pathways to better enhance prevention of the introduction of invasive non-native species: you may view that vision here.

The NECIS letter to Rep. Bishop can be viewed by clicking the following link: NECIS letter on HR 3994

The National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS) is a national partnership of major environmental organizations and professional societies that is dedicated to strengthening the nation’s response to invasive species, with special emphasis on preventing future introductions of harmful species.

Tackling the Challenge of Invasive Species: A Coordinated and Comprehensive National Response

Today the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS) released a document outlining a vision for a comprehensive national response in order to tackle the challenge of invasive species.  The vision is intended to address the inadequate authority, capacity, and coordination of the current federal response to invasive species issues.

The NECIS vision is unique in that it emphasizes the top priority of closing pathways by which additional harmful species enter the country and spread. Until these pathways are close, managing established infestations will be a never-ending burden due to a constant stream of new introductions.  Preventing harmful new invasions is the most effective–and cost-effective–method for protecting the nation from the growing threat posed by invasive species.

“Tackling the Challenge of Invasive Species: A Coordinated and Comprehensive National Response” lays out several recommendations for a comprehensive approach to addressing invasive species, identifies gaps and overlaps in responsibilities, illustrates the roles and importance of regulatory and resource management agencies, and discusses potential performance metrics to measure the success of these important efforts.

NECIS urges decision-makers, scientists, advocates, and concerned citizens to enact and push for the recommendations in this document and take an overall preventative approach to solving the problems created by invasive species.  Until we formulate a comprehensive attack, harmful new invasions will continue to plague the United States at great cost to taxpayers, our ecosystems, our economy, and our way of life.

Six NECIS member organizations signed the vision document: Ecological Society of America, Environmental Law Institute, National Association of Exotic Plant Pest Councils, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Wildlife Society.

The document may be viewed here: NECIS Tackling the Challenge of Invasives

The National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS) is a national partnership of major environmental organizations and professional societies that is dedicated to strengthening the nation’s response to invasive species, with special emphasis on preventing future introductions of harmful species.

Senator Gillibrand Announces Bill to Prevent Future Invasive Species

PROPOSED LEGISLATION WOULD STRENGTHEN PROTECTIONS AGAINST INVASIVE ANIMAL SPECIES

Senator Gillibrand introduces bill to prevent the import of harmful non-native fish and wildlife

 

WASHINGTON (June, 7, 2013)—Acting in the interest of the nation’s environment and economy, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) took a major step forward today to stop the import of invasive, non-native animals by introducing “The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act of 2013.” This bill will allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent new, harmful fish and wildlife from being imported into the country and to more quickly act to prevent the spread of those that are already here. This Senate bill is a companion bill of H.R. 996, which was introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) earlier this year.

 

The current U.S. law governing the import of animals is more than a century old, and has proven to be ineffective in protecting the country from the influx of thousands of non-native fish and wildlife species being imported into the country, hundreds of which are already known to be invasive or present disease risk. Recent invasions by imported animal species such as the Burmese python, Asian carp, northern snakehead, and red lionfish are together costing federal, state, and local governments tens of millions of dollars annually in efforts to control them. These costs could have been avoided if authorities had considered their risks beforehand and restricted their importation.

“The current injurious species listing process is a regulatory dinosaur that, in most cases, only closes the proverbial barn door after invasive species have escaped and become established,” said Peter Jenkins, spokesperson for the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species. “We applaud Senator Gillibrand for introducing this proposed legislation, which will allow the federal government to proactively prevent future invasions of fish and wildlife that can cause permanent harm to the environment, spread disease, and cost millions of dollars to control.”

As a leading import market, the United States receives hundreds of millions of live, non-native animals each year for use in aquaculture or for sale by the pet and aquarium trades and other businesses. For years, the federal government has come under sharp criticism for allowing the import of invasive animal species that cause extensive damage to ecosystems, are a cost burden to taxpayers, and present safety or health threats.

 

“This bill is a 21st century solution that improves oversight for the trade of live animals by updating a law enacted 113 years ago,” said Jennifer Caddick, spokesperson for Great Lakes United.  “It provides a significant boost to national efforts to prevent future invasions and protects our environment, wildlife, and economy,”

 

The proposed legislation will create a new screening system to proactively review live animals proposed for import to the United States and to restrict those that pose serious risks before they are imported, while also immediately giving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service greater flexibility and authority to make science-based decisions to prohibit or restrict live animals already in trade. The current law regulating animal imports does not require that animals being imported first be screened for invasiveness, for diseases they might carry, or for the risks they pose to human or wildlife health.

 

“Senator Gillibrand and Representative Slaughter have created a critical opportunity for Congress to close the loophole that has allowed harmful invasive species to alter U.S. ecosystems and push out native species,” said Bentley Johnson, legislative representative for the National Wildlife Federation. “Enacting these bills would be one of the most significant policy advances in animal import oversight by the federal government.”

 

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For a fact sheet on the economic impact of imported invasive species and diseases: www.glu.org/en/system/files/Factsheet_necis_economics_final.pdf

 

Established in 2003, the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS) is a national network of 18 major conservation and environmental organizations that provides a united expert and scientific voice on invasive species policy. Its leaders include scientists, lawyers, activists, and advocates with many years of experience on invasives policy. For more information, please visit www.necis.net.

EPA Rule Would Create Incentives to Spread Invasive Species

Last week the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species joined a group of 96 organizations in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget  outlining concerns over a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule that could provide incentives to spread a harmful invasive species.

The rule would allow a plant called Arundo donax (also known as Giant Reed, Colorado River Reed, and Giant Cane), a known invasive species, to qualify as an “advanced biofuel feedstock” under the Renewable Fuel Standard. This means that producers would get money from the federal government for growing giant reed as a source to create biofuel.

Growing plants for energy can potentially be a cleaner and less harmful alternative to fossil fuels, but only if it is done responsibly. Planting a species that has been listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species is not responsible.  Invasive species cost the United States over $120 billion every year.

Given the clear risks associated with growing giant reed for energy, the last thing we need is to be spending taxpayer-funded money encouraging producers to plant this stuff. There is still time for EPA to hit pause and fix the rule before finalizing it.

To view the letter and find out more information about this proposed rule, read National Wildlife Federation’s blog post here: http://blog.nwf.org/2012/10/an-environmental-disaster-of-unimaginable-proportions/

Breaking: The Economic Case for More Invasive Risk Assessments and Regulation

A new article published in Biological Invasions delves deep into risk analysis and economic cost/benefit information gathered over the last year and a half.  In the article Peter Jenkins, Executive Director of the Center for Invasive Species Prevention and member of the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species, also recommends specific federal policy reforms that will help address the shortcomings of a broken system to prevent harmful animal invasions.  Mr. Jenkins also details how simple steps such as inexpensive risk assessments can produce net economic benefits for the nation and protect human and wildlife health from emerging zoonotic diseases.  Click the link below to read the full article.

Biological Invasions article

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