Author Topic: House Passes Bill to Update the Outdated and Inefficient Endangered Species Act  (Read 1618 times)

Offline Peter Vahry

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Washington, D.C. (July 29, 2014) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act with a bipartisan vote of 233-190.  The bill updates the ESA for the first time in 26 years by requiring federal agencies to make data used for ESA decisions publicly available.  It also ensures the proper use of taxpayer funds by putting a cap on attorney’s fees that have grown tremendously.

Congressional Western Caucus Co-Chairs Steve Pearce (NM-02) and Cynthia Lummis (WY-At Large), Western Caucus member and House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04), and Western Caucus member Randy Neugebauer (TX-19) released the following statements in response to the passage of the bill:

“With a 2% recovery rate, the Endangered Species Act is terribly inefficient and is wasting taxpayer money,” said Chairman Pearce. “The law is being used by radical environmental groups to slow economic development and job creation in the West through costly litigation. Today’s bill accomplishes several major reforms including a cap on skyrocketing attorney’s fees that will prevent the exploitation of middle-class families by these radical environmental groups.  This provision also ensures that more funds go to actual on the ground conservation efforts.  The bill also increases transparency by forcing federal agencies to reveal the data they use when making potentially economically harmful listings under the ESA. The reforms made in this bill will increase species preservation without sacrificing the economic benefits that Westerners deserve. After 26 years without reauthorization it is time to update the ESA, I call on my colleagues in the Senate to act on this legislation.”

“For too long many have considered the Endangered Species Act to be a ‘western’ issue that folks east of the Mississippi need not worry about,” said Chairman Lummis.  “However, with secretive, closed-door court settlements forcing listing decisions in all 50 states, the law’s reach and potential impacts now span the entire nation.  Like most laws it was well-intended, to protect and conserve wildlife on the brink of extinction, but after 40 years with few meaningful changes the law is in dire need of reform.  Today’s ESA is outdated, its litigation-driven, punitive model fails to embrace and encourage the boots-on-the-ground conservation efforts we see every day in the west.  These bills are modest and targeted, seeking only to instill more transparency in the ESA’s implementation, more state and local involvement in ESA decision-making, and more focus on species recovery instead of excessive litigation.  A more transparent and collaborative ESA will ultimately work better for both people and species.”

“It’s been over 40 years since the Endangered Species Act was enacted and over 25 years since the law was renewed by Congress; it’s time this law was brought into the 21st Century. This common sense legislation to update and improve the Endangered Species Act aims to increase transparency, to enlist greater consultation by states, localities, and Indian tribes in species listings, and to reduce taxpayer-financed attorney’s fees to help invest more funding in actual species recovery,”said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. “The House’s bipartisan approval of this legislation to make modest, sensible updates to the ESA is an important step forward to making this law more effective for both species and people while respecting the original intent of this law which is to conserve species.”

“Landowners, businesses, and families in West Texas and the Big Country have seen firsthand the sweeping negative consequences of an endangered species listing,” said Rep. Neugebauer. “While our neighbors are forced to navigate through increased compliance costs and frivolous lawsuits, these listings are decided by bureaucrats in Washington, often without making sure the scientific data used to support the decision is accurate and transparent. My bill fixes this Washington-knows-best approach and empowers state and local experts who have a much better understanding of West Texas and the Big Country. This is a first step towards putting Texans back in charge of conservation efforts in their own backyard, and working to recover species instead of just adding them to a list. I thank Chairman Hastings for including my bill in this ESA reform package, and I applaud the House for passing these much-needed reforms.”

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