National Biological Service Faces Extermination

Keith L. Cowing kcowing at aibs.org
Thu Jun 8 12:35:02 EST 1995


National Biological Service Faces Extermination

The Department of Interior's National Biological Service is facing a
critical juncture in the coming weeks as Congress  considers agency
budgets for 1996.  NBS, which combined the  biological research efforts of
DOI's agencies in 1993, may face  elimination under current budget
proposals.  Conservative Members  of Congress as well as conservative
think tanks such as the  Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute have
been advocating  complete extermination of the agency virtually since its 
inception in November 1993.  Since this condemnation began at the  same
time the DOI reorganization occurred, the agency's critics  have not even
considered the efficacy of the coordination of  research efforts.  

One of the most disconcerting arguments used in the House floor  debate
against creation of the agency is that the more science  knowledge
acquired, the more precarious the situation for private  property owners. 
There appears to be growing apprehension that  information generated
through NBS activities will restrict  private land use options by
triggering provisions of the  Endangered Species Act.  Scientific
knowledge, in and of itself,  will not infringe on private property
rights; it will, however,  provide a sound scientific base on which to
determine the wisest  use and management of the nation's biological
resources.

While budget cutters in the House are most ardently opposed to  the NBS,
resolve to kill the agency appears to be lessening in  the Senate. 
Earlier this year, AIBS sent a letter to the House  and Senate members of
the Interior Appropriations Subcommittees  outlining the importance of the
research conducted through the  NBS to the scientific community.  The
Institute emphasized that  "without credible, peer-reviewed data, land-use
policies would be  subject to short-term considerations that are often
politically  fashionable, but not necessarily scientifically sound.  By 
incorporating all DOI research on our nation's biological  resource
capital into one agency, the NBS serves to eliminate  duplicative efforts
while providing objective analysis on how  best to understand, manage, and
evaluate the effectiveness of  management protocols.  Abolition of the
agency would serve to  disengage the coordination of efforts, and could
lead to DOI  policy decisions based on incomplete science." 

To view a full copy of the letter AIBS sent to the members of the House
and Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittees, go to the  AIBS gopher
(address below) and check the folder "AIBS Legislative Actions" within the
main menu folder "Legislative Activities".  

Biologists with an interest on this (or any other) issue are  encouraged
to contact their representatives.   The AIBS gopher has information
regarding communicating with congressional members.  Apparently, few
individual scientists  ever share their knowledge with elected officials,
deeming the whole group politically irrelevant.  One letter may not change
a  vote, but it may enable a lawmaker to make a more informed  decision.  

Resources:

NBS WWW Page    http://www.its.nbs.gov/nbs/
AIBS Gopher     gopher://aibs.org
Thomas (Congressional Home Page)   http://thomas.loc.gov/

-- 
Keith L. Cowing  -  Manager of Planning and Operations
American Institute of Biological Sciences
10700 Parkridge Blvd Suite 380  -  Reston, VA, USA 22091
703-758-1212 voice  -  703-758-1222 fax
kcowing at aibs.org  -  gopher://aibs.org



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