Congress urged to vote down ESA changes

Feb 27, 2009

The Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association met with members of Congress to urge opposition to legislation to overturn recent improvements to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-WV, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, is sponsoring legislation, HJR 18, that would nullify regulations issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service to update their joint consultation procedures under ESA. The regulation, issued on Dec. 16, 2008, extends the ability of the federal government to conserve threatened and endangered species.

The revised regulation will expedite consultations between agencies, allowing for a more efficient use of limited resources and providing clarity and focus within the agencies. The agencies will maintain their responsibility to enforce ESA in protecting species.

“These regulations streamline and improve the Endangered Species Act,” explains Skye Kreb, president of the Public Lands Council and rancher from Ione, OR. “Overturning them hurts our ability to effectively manage endangered species.”

Under the final regulation, proposed federal actions that are determined to have no adverse effect on a species listed under ESA are no longer required to be approved through consultation with FWS. Relieving FWS of the duty to be involved in actions least likely to impact a listed species will free up its scarce resources to address more of the actions that are likely to harm species. “In these difficult economic times, it is critical that the federal government make the most efficient use of its resources to accomplish its mission,” said Krebs. “This focus of effort and resources will benefit our wildlife,” said Krebs.