Republicans Launch Bills Aimed At Changing Endangered Species Act

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Members of Congress introduced a bipartisan slate of nine bills, endorsed by national and regional organizations, – called the “Western Caucus Endangered Species Act Modernization Package.” Rep. Paul Gosar calls the package “long-overdue improvements to the underlying 1973 Act.”

According to Gosar, the ESA has been “modified only sparingly since its introduction, with the result being that the hundreds of thousands of interactions that take place every day between parties affected by the Act and the statute as implemented have had almost no bearing on the way species conservation is managed in the United States at the federal level. Even Executive branch regulations governing implementation of the Act lie mostly untouched – and have for years.”

Gosar said his Caucus would not let “such an embarrassment of riches lie wasted,” rather they saw it as “an opportunity for serious reform.”

The member involved in the Modernization Package agreed on “that the ESA must be retooled in order to: 1) Fulfill its original intent of prioritizing real recovery and conservation of eligible species, and; 2) More effectively balance the interests of all parties involved in and affected by species and habitat listings – including species themselves, private citizens, industry, local governments, public infrastructure projects, nonprofit organizations and other entities.”

Gosar, chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, said in a press release, “15 Members of Congress, 12 panelists, nine bills, and a combined thousands of hours of experience dealing with the Endangered Species Act at all levels. That’s what we put on display today when we introduced our ESA modernization package and held a packed Legislative Forum and press conference. We showed everyone that Congress can come together to scope out a problem, listen and learn from affected parties, set out clear principles, devise bipartisan proposals and introduce them in a show of unity. Just one of those is usually enough to derail a Congressional effort, so I am very proud of this group of Members for coming together and unveiling a package of smart, targeted, thoughtful modernization amendments to the Endangered Species Act of 1973. My friend and Democratic Caucus Member from Oregon Kurt Schrader even came onboard to cosponsor the LOCAL and WHOLE Acts – and he tells me he’s reviewing the other bills closely to see how they read to him. I challenge all Members, advocacy and industry groups and media observers to follow Rep. Schrader’s lead and look closely at what we’ve proposed here, to consider carefully the testimony of millions of Americans as to the longstanding and fixable failures of the ESA to conserve species and balance interests appropriately – to do all of that, and then tell me you can’t come onboard with our effort.”