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E-M:/ FW: U.S. Congress -- News -- Endangered Species: House Lawmakers to Offer Bipartisan Legislation on Conservation & Recovery; Alternative t o Controversial Pombo Legislation



 

UNITED STATES CONGRESS

 

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Contact: Tom Kiley (Miller), 202-225-2095

Joe Pouliot (Boehlert/Science Committee), 202-225-0581

Tony Caligiuri (Gilchrest), 202-225-5311

 

 

 

 HOUSE LAWMAKERS TO OFFER BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION

ON ENDANGERED SPECIES CONSERVATION AND RECOVERY

Collaboration Produces Alternative to Controversial Pombo Legislation;

It Balances Interests of Environment, Landowners, and Taxpayers

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A bipartisan coalition of members of the House of Representatives are pushing for passage of responsible legislation to help threatened and endangered species recover without putting onerous burdens on landowners or taxpayers. A vote on their proposal, and on a controversial competing proposal, is expected Thursday.

 

The bipartisan group opposes legislation authored by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) that would make it far less likely that endangered species would ever recover but would add enormous new costs for U.S. taxpayers. (Pombo's bill is H.R. 3824.)

 

The bipartisan group is led by Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and includes Reps. John Dingell (D-MI) - the original author of the 1973 Endangered Species Act; Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD); Norm Dicks (D-WA); Doris Matsui (D-CA); Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL); and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), among others. The lawmakers issued this statement today:

 

"The legislation passed by the House Resources Committee last week represents a break with the bipartisan tradition that has guided much of Congress' work on endangered and threatened species.  Our alternative proposal is in keeping with the bipartisan tradition on this issue and represents a balanced and positive step forward for the management of America's precious environmental diversity, defense of legitimate needs of private landowners, and responsibility toward federal taxpayers.

 

"H.R. 3824, by contrast, would make it far less likely that threatened and endangered species would ever recover to sustainable levels, let alone maintain their current populations. It would also put taxpayers on the line for potentially massive payments to landowners that go far beyond the true costs of complying with the law.

 

"Our alternative is a bipartisan, responsible, and common sense approach to helping recover species while also protecting landowners and taxpayers.  H.R. 3824 claims to reform the Endangered Species Act, but it really just weakens the Act while adding to taxpayer burdens. Our alternative is a real solution - with an emphasis on recovery and recognition of legitimate needs of landowners and taxpayers."

 

Like the Pombo legislation, the Miller-Boehlert legislation would remove the requirement under current law that the Secretary of the Interior must designate "critical habitat" areas for species recovery. But unlike the Pombo legislation, the Miller-Boehlert bill replaces this program with an effective conservation effort that will protect habitat necessary for species recovery. The Pombo bill leaves no meaningful recovery plan in effect after the removal of the critical habitat designation.  Specifically, the Miller-Boehlert legislation would:

 

  • Use private lands to help threatened and endangered species recover to sustainable levels only if public lands - like national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges - are not adequate for recovery;

 

  • Dedicate resources to provide technical assistance and grants to private property owners - particularly small land owners - who help conserve species on or near their land; and,

 

  • Achieve better federal-state cooperation on decisions to list species as threatened or endangered or make changes to such lists, as well as achieving better cooperation on creating and implementing recovery plans.

 

The Miller-Boehlert substitute would eliminate the open-ended new entitlement that would be created by H.R. 3824, would make enforceable the recovery plans that H.R. 3824 relies on to protect species, would ensure that decisions are based on science, and would amend provisions in H.R. 3824 that the Congressional Research Service says would weaken the Endangered Species Act.

 

A number of sporting and conservation groups have already endorsed the Miller-Boehlert bill, including American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense, Izaak Walton League of America, Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and Wilderness Society.

 

The bipartisan coalition is asking the House leadership to ensure that they have the right to offer their alternative on the House floor on Thursday, when the Pombo legislation is considered.

 

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