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:
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.