Eyes on Washington week ending 02.04.17

CapBldg

Last Tuesday, Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke’s nomination for Secretary of the Department of Interior passed a Senate committee. Zinke is now one step closer to leading the agency that manages millions of acres of federal land its natural resources.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved Zinke on a 16-6 vote largely along party lines. Zinke’s nomination has now moved to the Senate floor where he will most likely be confirmed, however a date has not been scheduled for that vote. If confirmed Zinke will oversee 12 agencies within the Department of Interior including the National Parks Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Meanwhile, Sonny Perdue received an endorsement from his Democratic predecessor last Tuesday as he prepares for U.S. Senate confirmation hearings to be the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. The Department’s former secretary, Tom Vilsack said Perdue’s background as a former Republican governor helped prepare him for the “opportunities and challenges that exist in rural communities.” A hearing date for Perdue’s nomination has not been scheduled.

Last Thursday, Senate Republicans pressed forward with the confirmation of Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, suspending the Environment and Public Works Committee’s rules to approve the cabinet pick despite a Democratic boycott.

The 110 vote sends the nomination to the full Senate, where Mr. Pruitt will most likely be approved this week. Democrats and environmental groups waged a fierce campaign against the confirmation of Mr. Pruitt. As the Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt led or took part in 14 lawsuits aimed at blocking EPA regulations, including Obama administration policies aimed at climate change.

A day after Democrats on the Senate environment committee boycotted a planned vote on Mr. Pruitt’s nomination; the panel’s Republicans reconvened on Thursday and temporarily suspended the committee’s rules, which require the presence of at least two Democrats to hold votes, and approved Mr. Pruitt.

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March for Science

march4sci

The March for Science campaign attracted more than 1.3 million supporters across social medial sites “cementing itself as a voice for the people who are concerned about the future of science under President Trump.” The March for Science scheduled its demonstration in Washington, DC on “Earth Day,” Saturday, April 22, 2017.

Jonathan Berman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Health and Science Center in San Antonio and lead organizer of the March said, “Yes this is a protest but it’s not a political protest. The people making decisions are in Washington and they are the people we are trying to reach with the message: You should listen to the evidence.”

WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society will be participating in the March for Science. If you would like to join our pride on April 22nd, please visit our On the Prowl or Lionesses for Wildness pages for meet up location and times.

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Ollie
Ollie

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park personnel were on the hunt for Ollie one of the Zoo’s bobcats who was able to escape from her exhibit yard last Monday. A team of zookeepers, zoo police and members of the Humane Rescue Alliance searched the adjacent Woodley Park and Cleveland Park neighborhoods. The National Zoo is situated within Rock Creek Park.

Craig Saffoe, a curator for great cats at the zoo, said that Ollie is a capable hunter and would be able to care for herself while on the loose. “Cats are… they’re survivors. This is not like she’s out in an area, in an environment that she can’t survive,” Saffoe added, noting that bobcats are indigenous to the D.C. area, although rare.

“This is very survivable habitat; it’s one of the things that will make it very difficult for us to ensure that we can find her. Ollie is equipped to survive and that bobcats sometimes catch birds that land in their enclosure,” Saffoe said.

Local schools cancelled outdoor recesses and residents were concerned about their animal companions becoming easy prey for the 25 pound bobcat. Ollie fortunately did not stray too far, even though sightings of her where reported 10 miles north of the Zoo. On Wednesday afternoon, a visitor spotted her (where else?) in the yard near the bird exhibit. Within a few hours the big cat curators captured her and took her to the zoo’s hospital for examination. Ollie is just fine and back in her own yard.

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