WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., today hailed the passage of his amendment in the Senate that would protect endangered species. Jeffords’ amendment limited a provision in the Department of Defense Authorization bill currently being debated by the Senate that would have granted permanent, broad-reaching exemptions to the Endangered Species Act. The amendment passed on a vote of 51 to 48. “Like every Senator, I am concerned about our troops on our military bases in the states and throughout the world. I want them to have every advantage as they prepare for and engage in military conflict. However, sweeping changes to environmental laws, even when changes are proposed during a time when this country is at war, should be considered carefully, cautiously and on a case-by-case basis. The Environment and Public Works Committee is charged with understanding the implications of change in those laws, as well as the need for change, and weighing the long-term consequences to public health and the environment,“ said Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Jeffords joined U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D – NJ, and Daniel Akaka, D – Hi., in offering the amendment. The amendment modified the Defense Authorization bill to give more authority to the Secretary of the Interior to determine how most effectively conserve the threatened and endangered species and ensure adequate funding for protecting endangered species. Jeffords continued, “This means that if land is needed for a species and military training, the Secretary of the Interior will review the Defense Department’s plan for managing the land and funding the management activities to make sure that species will be adequately protected. The Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior have been working together to balance needs of the military for training with the needs of endangered species for survival. This amendment affirms that balance.”