Update: The bill has become a law! President Obama signed the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Act on September 30.
The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds the September 28 House passage of H.R. 1454, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Act. After the Senate passed a modified version of the bill in July, this vote sends the bill to the White House for final signature into law.
The bill provides for the issuance of a special U.S. Postal Service stamp whose premium price would directly contribute to funding for projects supported by the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF), which are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Its passage has been a major legislative objective of WCS and represents a victory for supporters of wildlife and fiscally responsible governance.
"I thank Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) for their leadership in helping pass this very important piece of legislation," said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. "The conservation of imperiled species is greatly enhanced by the infusion of more resources, especially through creative funding mechanisms such as sale of semi-postal stamps that have no impact on the U.S. taxpayer."
H.R. 1454 passed through the U.S. House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support in December 2009 under the leadership of House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), and then through the U.S. Senate with some modifications in July 2010. Important Senate champions of the legislation include Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Tom Udall (D-NM). An analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the bill's implementation "would have no significant discretionary cost to the Federal government."
The MSCF program supports the conservation of many of the world's most charismatic species. Despite its modest size, the program has broad-based support, including from more than 20 million members of the Multinational Species Coalition. It also stimulates public-private partnerships and has leveraged more than three times as much in matching funds from conservation groups, corporations and other governments.
The stamps, depicting highly imperiled species such as tigers, African and Asian elephants, rhinoceros, great apes or marine turtles, would offer a convenient way for the public to support conservation projects. They would be sold at U.S. post offices nationwide, as well as at institutions like zoos and aquariums.
WCS has strongly advocated for the MSCF Semipostal Stamp Act since it was introduced and helped steer a coalition representing millions of Americans in support of the bill. In May 2009, WCS Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science Dr. John Robinson testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans & Wildlife in support of the bill. Through a campaign of WCS's "Take Action" online advocacy program, 15,927 WCS supporters sent a total of 28,615 letters to their Senators in 2010 urging them to pass the MSCF Semipostal Stamp Act.