Wyoming Governor Matt Mead Wants Endangered Species Extinct

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead doesn't like endangered species or the Endangered Species Act that protects them.

Photo by Jerry Buckingham, CC

He likes big ugly coal mines that pollute his state and the planet and the big campaign contri­butions that come with them.

According to him, the Act is "not good industry, it’s not good for business and, quite frankly, it’s not good for the species.” He added that Wyoming “can’t be a zoo for endangered species” and that the Act is not just bad for Wyoming, but for the country.

Mead’s lunatic remarks came during a speech to the Wyoming Mining Association on Friday, June 16th in Sheridan, Wyoming.

“Governor Mead can’t be more wrong,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “In protecting species from wolves to grizzly bears to the tiny Wyoming toad, the Endangered Spe­cies Act has been a resounding success at prevent­ing the extinction of our country’s wildlife. Governor Mead’s statements show that rather than seeking to ‘modernize’ the Endangered Species Act as he claims, the goal is to repeal or severely hamstring it to benefit his campaign contributors in the fossil fuel industry.”

Mead’s remarks come on the heels of a statement by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in December that he “would be happy to invalidate the Endangered Species Act.” Rather than introducing legislation to repeal the En­dangered Species Act, Bishop and other congres­sional Republicans, including Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), have called for the Act to be “modernized.” However, during the current Congress, Republicans have launched 30 attacks on the Act, none of which would improve the conservation or recovery of protect­ed wildlife. Since Republicans retook the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011, more than 258 attacks against the Act have been introduced in Congress.

Changes to the Endangered Species Act are not wide­ly supported by the public. A 2015 poll found that 90% of the public supports the Act. More than 70% believe that decisions about endangered species should be based on science — and made by the experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, not by politicians.

In order to build political support for weakening the Endangered Species Act, Mead established his so-called “Species Conservation and Endangered Spe­cies Act Initiative” in 2015 while he served as the chair of the Western Governors’ Association. In 2016 the as­sociation approved a policy resolution to substantially weaken the Endangered Species Act.

“Governor Mead knows that gutting the Endangered Species Act would be deeply unpopular and out of touch with the values of nearly all Americans,” said Hartl. “As a result, he has pushed this sham process through the Western Governors’ Association to try to create a false sense of support for his attack on the Endangered Species Act.”

In February more than 280 environmental, animal-pro­tection, faith-based, outdoor-recreational and so­cial-justice groups sent a letter to the National Gov­ernors Association opposing Mead’s efforts at the Western Governors’ Association to weaken the Endan­gered Species Act.