House Passes Historic Updates to Endangered Species Act
The legislation makes updates and improvements to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which has struggled to accomplish its core mission due to outdated policies. Since the bill's creation in 1973, more than 1500 species have been listed and the current rate of recovery stands at just 2%. It has been 26 years since updates were made to ESA. Excessive litigation by special interest groups has been an albatross around the neck of ESA, and has prevented it from achieving the results for which it was intended. Today's legislation seeks to address this challenge, improve transparency of the program, bring greater state involvement, and reduce the taxpayer-financed litigation.
"The Endangered Species Act isn't working. The ultimate goal is to ensure that threatened and endangered species are successfully recovered and that long-term management plans are put into place. This legislation puts us on a path to do that. Without updates we will maintain the status quo, which has had a success rate of just two percent. In every classroom in America, that counts as a failing grade. We have to do better," said Congressman Bishop.
The following are key improvements to ESA included in H.R. 4315:
· Data used by federal agencies to support an ESA listing will be made available to the public through the internet.
· The federal government will disclose to affected states data used prior to an ESA listing decision.
· The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be required to track, report to Congress, and share online federal taxpayer funds as well as personnel hours required to respond to ESA related lawsuits.
· Placement of reasonable caps on attorneys fees to make the ESA consistent with existing federal law. Through ESA-related litigation, attorneys are being awarded large sums that often include rates as much as $600 per hour. In most other areas of the federal government, attorneys' fees are limited to $125 per hour in most circumstances.
Supporters of this legislation include:
· American Logger's Council
· U.S. Chamber of Commerce
· Family Farm Alliance
· National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association
· National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition
· National Association of Conservation Districts
· National Association of Counties
· Western Energy Alliance
· American Farm Bureau Federation
· Americans for Responsible Recreational Access
· American Council of Snowmobile Associations
· BlueRibbon Coalition, Inc.
· Motorcycle Industry Council
· National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council
· Off-Road Business Association
· Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association
· Specialty Equipment Market Association
· Specialty Vehicle Institute of America
· The Public Lands Council
· National Cattlemen's Beef Association
· Washington Farm Bureau
· Oregon Farm Bureau
· Idaho Farm Bureau
· Colorado Farm Bureau
· The Public Power Council
· Northwest River Partners
· Wyoming County Commissioners Association
· Wyoming Stock Growers AssociationWyoming Association of Conservation Districts