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Chair Grijalva Praises Department of the Interior for Restoring Protections for Migratory Birds After Trump-Era Weakening Efforts

09.29.21

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today praised the Biden administration for its next steps to rewrite a Trump-era rule under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to protect birds and provide certainty to businesses.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that it would revoke a Trump rule that allows the incidental take of birds without consequence. The Department also announced it would start establishing a fairer system for enforcing incidental take provisions under the MBTA and issue a Director’s order for consistent enforcement of the MBTA while that process plays out.

“Thanks to the work of Secretary Haaland, the Biden administration is taking the next steps in its promise to protect birds and address unjust Trump policies that put polluters over people and the environment,” Grijalva said. “This announcement puts that policy behind us. We now can look forward to a migratory bird standard that carries out the law’s intent, provides regulatory certainty and promotes the conservation of North American birds. I stand ready to assist the Department as it gathers public input and develops a new framework.”

The MBTA is one of the oldest and most important wildlife conservation laws in the country. Enacted in 1918, the MBTA prohibits the unauthorized “taking” or “killing” of more than 1,000 protected species of birds “at any time, by any means or in any manner.” As a result, the MBTA has consistently been one of the only laws that has resulted in fines for polluters. BP was fined $100 million for violations of the MBTA after the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The Trump administration published a rule on January 7, 2021, in the closing days of the administration that eliminated penalties for the incidental taking (e.g., capturing or killing) of migratory birds, explicitly undermining the purpose and scope of the MBTA. Within weeks of taking office, the Biden administration paused the implementation of the rule for a 30-day public comment period.

Last Congress, the Committee took action to strengthen the MBTA by passing Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chair Alan Lowenthal’s (D-Calif.) Migratory Bird Protection Act of 2020, which explicitly prohibited the incidental taking (capturing or killing) of migratory birds by commercial activities.

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Media Contact: David Shen

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