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Endangered Species Act Reform Focuses on Economic Impact
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On Wednesday, July 19, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing to consider five legislative bills to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including the Listing Reform Act (H.R. 717). The Listing Reform Act would allow either the U.S. Department of Interior or Commerce to review the economic cost of adding a species to the list of endangered species or threatened species when making listing determinations.

Greg Sheehan, the Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), testified in favor of the bill. Deputy Director Sheen expressed support for provisions of the bill that would prioritize petitions based on need, which he noted would provide the Service with more flexibility to implement ESA.

Sheehan stopped short of a full endorsement of the Listing Reform Act’s efforts to introduce an option to identify a protection for a species as “warranted but precluded” if the protection would result in “significant cumulative economic impacts.”  Regarding this aspect of the bill Sheehan said, “The Service would, however, like to work with the Committee regarding the bill’s proposed ‘warranted but precluded’ determination on petitions for threated listings to better understand how economic impacts should be appropriately considered.”

"For potentially threatened species the Service would be given the authority to consider the economic impact to the human community. For the Deputy Director of USFWS to testify in favor of this bill is a direct result of the more favorable administration and Congress," said FLA Government Affairs Committee Chair, Hayes Brown.

 

The four other bills discussed during the hearing include:

H.R. 424 – Gray Wolf State Management ActThis bill would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reissue the 2011 Western Great Lakes population delisting rule and the 2012 Wyoming population delisting rule. Additionally, the bill would protect both rules from further judicial review.

H.R. 1274 – State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery ActThis bill would require that all of the data used to make a listing determination be made available to impacted states “prior to making a listing determination”.

H.R. 2603 – Saving America’s Endangered Species (SAVES) ActThis bill would prevent non-native species that are now found in the United States from being identified federally as threatened or endangered.

H.R. 3131 – Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act This bill would, in effect, limit attorneys’ fees for successful citizen plaintiffs in ESA cases against the federal government.

The entire testimony of Acting Director Sheehan which includes additional details regarding the five bill can be found here.

 

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