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Lowenthal floats discussion draft of bill to amend MBTA

Fern Davies

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Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) has circulated a discussion draft of legislation that would "amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to affirm that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s prohibition on the unauthorized take or killing of migratory birds includes incidental take by covered commercial activities,
and to direct the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to make a rule establishing a permitting program authorizing and regulating
such incidental take, and for other purposes." The discussion draft provides that  ‘covered commercial activity’ and ‘covered commercial activities’ mean an industry or type of commercial activity that the Secretary determines cause significant harm to migratory birds including: oil, gas, and wastewater disposal pits; methane or other gas burner pipes; ‘communication towers; electric transmission and distribution lines; and wind and solar power generation facilities. It would authorize a permitting program that would limit the amount of authorized take and require the use of best practices or technologies that are deemed practical and effective. It would also require mitigation measures, including mitigation fees.

Even if this bill is eventually introduced and even if it is passed by the House, it has little chance of getting through the Senate, given that the Senate majority leader is blocking virtually all legislation coming from the House or Senate legislation proposed by Democrats.


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The House Natural Resources Committee subcommittee on Waters, Oceans, and Wildlife will hold a hearing on this discussion draft on Thursday, 13 June 2019.

The witnesses will be:

Mr. Paul Schmidt

Consulting for Conservation

Retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Palmyra, VA

Dr. Amanda D. Rodewald

Garvin Professor; Senior Director of Conservation Science

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Ithaca, NY

Mr. Stan Senner

Vice President for Bird Conservation

National Audubon Society

Washington, DC

Mr. Alexander K.  Obrecht

Energy & Regulatory Attorney


Denver, CO


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