A Pivotal Time for World Wildlife Protection

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A Pivotal Time for World Wildlife Protection

World Wildlife Day (March 3) honors the day that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) , was signed in 1973. Celebrated globally, World Wildlife Day raises awareness of the importance of our world’s wild animals and plants, and is more crucial now than ever before, with constant attempts from Congress to repeal regulations and dismantle many of the wildlife and environmental protections the U.S. has in place.

The Dodd-Frank Act and the Conflict Mineral Rule

President Trump and the Congressional GOP leaders are now targeting the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which forced energy companies on the United States stock exchanges to disclose the royalties and other payments that oil, natural gas, coal and mineral companies make to governments, in an effort to fight corruption in resource-rich countries. The Act includes a whistleblower rewards program for those reporting insider fraud violations. The SEC can make awards ranging from 10 to 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected, which are paid from its Investor Protection Fund. Scrapping the Dodd-Frank Act would also nullify the Conflict Mineral Rule for two years, allowing U.S. companies to buy conflict minerals freely- including gold, tin, tantalum, coltan and tungsten- without public disclosure. 

Conflict minerals are used in cell phones, laptops and many other consumer electronics. This will have a devastating impact on hundreds of species’ habitats in developing countries where corrupt governments already fail to implement weak environmental regulations. It would also place local communities in even greater danger from warlords, militias and miners. 

The Ripple Effect of Decreased Corporate Transparency

Due to the compounded effects of civil war and mining of conflict minerals, the Grauer’s gorilla population in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has plummeted by an astonishing 77% in only two decades. The gorillas are heavily poached largely by armed militias and miners for illegal Bushmeat.

Despite the Conflict Mineral Rule being passed with bipartisan support from Congress in 2010, it is included in President Trump’s widespread campaign for repealing corporate regulations. Currently there is also an aggressive and well-financed lobbying campaign to undermine the False Claims Act , America’s most effective whistleblower protection law.

While celebrating World Wildlife Day, we may be on the verge of permanently losing some of the wildlife we’re celebrating. In the spirit of the World Wildlife Day hashtag #DoOneThingToday, make the choice to ensure that rollbacks on corporate transparency do not exacerbate already dire conditions for wildlife.

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