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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Members of the Congressional Western Caucus released statements regarding this week’s full committee hearing and markup on the Caucus’ bipartisan Endangered Species Act modernization package in the House Natural Resources Committee, during which four of those bills passed the Committee:

Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01): “These bills honor our heritage, lighten regulatory burdens for communities, increase transparency, and strengthen relationships between states and the federal government. Ultimately, these bills aim to bolster our country’s natural resources. I’d like to thank the Western Caucus and my colleagues for helping to move these bills forward.” 

Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): “This week’s hearing and markup were a great first step on the path to ensuring that the Endangered Species Act can finally work effectively and efficiently for the benefit of our country and its incredible diversity of species. For years, implementation of the ESA has failed to reach the minimum of standards first set by the noble intentions it was created to fulfill. The bipartisan modernization package put forward by Members of this Caucus presents solutions to the judicially and bureaucratically broken mechanisms of that law, interjecting state involvement, broad transparency, and the full force of private sector problem-solving into the process. I thank Chairman Bishop and Members of the Western Caucus for their great work so far and look forward to finishing the job for the American people.”      

Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04): “It is long past time that we reform the Endangered Species Act. In the more than 40 years since its introduction and passage, much has changed in our nation and its environment, but the law has not kept up with the evolving realities of the 21st Century. The PETITION Act would give the Interior Secretary the tools necessary to prevent frivolous lawsuits from stopping the work of the Fish and Wildlife Service, while ensuring more resources are available to protect truly endangered species. I thank my colleagues on the House Committee on Natural Resources for advancing this important legislation. I also thank my colleagues from the Congressional Western Caucus for their leadership on this issue and I look forward to a vote in the full House on our collective efforts to modernize an important piece of American law.”

Chief Regulatory Reform Officer Andy Biggs (AZ-05): “I thank Chairman Bishop and Chairman Gosar for their leadership in moving the Western Caucus ESA modernization package forward.  This package is critical for the west and will help millions of Americans around the country by protecting local interests – not special interests.”

Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-06): “I am grateful for these long overdue reforms and appreciate Chairman Bishop and the Natural Resources Committee for their work to move this package forward. The bipartisan Western Caucus Endangered Species Act Modernization Package strikes the right balance between conserving and recovering endangered species and their habitats while also reducing federal bureaucracy and allowing for economic development to benefit the people of Minnesota and the country.”

Rep. Debbie Lesko (AZ-08): “I am pleased to see a number of bills in this important reform package championed by the Western Caucus move through the Natural Resources Committee. The Endangered Species Act as it currently stands is outdated, and reforms are needed to bring the ESA into the 21st Century. I look forward to the consideration of these bills by the House soon.”

Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04): “Maintaining protections for endangered species and ensuring our farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to provide a safe and sustainable food source for the American people are not mutually exclusive. My bill, the WHOLE Act, modernizes the decades-old ESA by removing unnecessary burdens on the agriculture community, while continuing to protect wildlife and their habitats. I am grateful to the committee for recognizing the importance of updating this antiquated law and for including my bill in this package.”

Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-05): “Passed 45 years ago, the Endangered Species Act is outdated and in need of modernization. The righteous intention of safeguarding species has been co-opted and become a tool for radical environmentalist to halt land management and limit access to natural resources. The federal government has been forced to spend countless taxpayer dollars combating frivolous lawsuits, rather than directing resources to conservation efforts. This bipartisan package of bills moves us in the right direction to provide much needed transparency and accountability to a meaningful update of the law.”

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01): “While the Endangered Species Act was certainly a well-intentioned law, it has completely failed on its mission to in recovering threatened or endangered species. Instead, it has become a vehicle for activist attorneys to make a career out of suing the government. This law hasn’t been updated in over 40 years, and it must be modernized if we want more desirable results. It’s in the best interest of both the wildlife and Americans who are impacted by the law.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01): “The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is in desperate need of modernization. Just like eight track cassettes, Atari video games and avocado green kitchen appliances that were in vogue 45 years ago, the Endangered Species Act is badly in need of serious updating. We have spent untold billions and cost the American taxpayer many times more - yet we have a pitiful track record of recovering species to show for it. The Natural Resources Committee is taking huge steps forward to improve the ESA, and I am proud to be a co-sponsor of all the bills considered by the Committee this week making those meaningful changes. These bills, along with others including my own H.R. 2603, are vital to preserve this country’s natural wildlife while eliminating outdated, costly regulations that don’t advance conservation goals. It is truly uplifting to see progress being made, and I am hopeful we can get at least some of these bills actually signed into law before the end of the year.” 

 

Background:

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources conducted a full committee hearing on the Western Caucus’ Bipartisan Endangered Species Act (ESA) Modernization Package which contain nine bills. To view a video of the full committee hearing, witness testimony and other important information, click here.

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 3608, the “Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act,” H.R. 6346 “The WHOLE Act,” H.R. 6345 “The EMPOWERS Act,” and H.R. 6355 “The PETITION Act” through a full committee markup. Click here to watch the committee markup.

The Western Caucus has created a landing page for the bills which included pictures, summary documents, bill text and quotes from stakeholders. Click here to view that page.

The legislative package of nine bills addresses the shortcomings of the ESA by fixing the listing process, adding framework for a clear de-listing process, addressing the petition backlog issue, removing unnecessary impediments to economic development, involving state and local input, and creating a mechanism that facilitates voluntary conservation efforts. The following bills comprised the Bipartisan ESA Modernization Package:

  • H.R. 6356 “The LIST Act” introduced by Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05) requires the delisting of species when objective, measurable scientific information demonstrates that a species is recovered. 
  • H.R. 6345 “The EMPOWERS Act” introduced by Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02) provides for greater involvement of State and local governments with regard to ESA petitions and decisions to list species. 
  • H.R. 6344 “The LOCAL Act” introduced by Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03) encourages voluntary conservation efforts and provide incentives for the preservation and recovery of imperiled species.
  • H.R. 6355 “The PETITION Act” by Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04) addresses the longstanding issue of petition backlogs, which drain limited federal resources and result in unnecessary lawsuits.
  • H.R. 6364 “The LAMP Act” introduced by Rep. Don Young (AK-At Large) increases state and local involvement in species management through cooperative agreements.
  • H.R. 6360 “The PREDICTS Act” introduced by Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-05) would provide for greater certainty and improved planning for incidental take permit holders and landowners entering into agreements to improve the status and recovery of at-risk and listed species.
  • H.R. 6346 “The WHOLE Act” introduced by Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04) would ensure that all species protections and conservation measures are considered in their totality when determining the likelihood of destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
  • H.R. 6354 “The STORAGE Act” introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04) would ensure that certain areas impacted by operations of water storage and similar facilities are not designated as critical habitat.
  • H.R. 3608, the “Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act” introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-04) requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to track, report to Congress, and make available online: 1) funds expended to respond to ESA lawsuits; 2) the number of employees dedicated to litigation; and 3) attorney’s fees awarded in the course of ESA litigation and settlement agreements. The bill also requires the federal government to disclose to affected states all data used prior to any ESA listing decisions and require that the “best available scientific and commercial data” used by the federal government include data provided by affected states, tribes, and local governments. Finally, this bill prioritizes resources towards species protection by placing reasonable caps on attorney’s fees.

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