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HELENA — The Montana House has overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to disregard the federal law protecting endangered and threatened species.

Republicans enthused by Gov. Brian Schweitzer's recent tough talk on wolves led a 61-39 vote Saturday to nullify the federal Endangered Species Act in Montana.

Tea party politics in the Legislature have spawned increasing belief in an 18th-century doctrine that purported to give states the ultimate say in constitutional matters. Critics dismiss the notion as unconstitutional since federal laws are supreme.

Dispatching with the Endangered Species Act would cost Montana roughly $1 billion in federal funds.

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Schweitzer recently encouraged ranchers to shoot protected wolves harassing their livestock. But the governor says he doesn't support nullification.

The bill faces one more usually procedural vote before it passes the House.

 

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