House approves significant Endangered Species Act improvements
Washington—The House of Representatives earlier this month passed landmark legislation aimed at integrating commonsense transparency and accountability reforms into the Endangered Species Act. The Farm Bureau-supported 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act (H.R. 4315) would update and improve the processes and procedures that the ESA established 40 years ago so that they better serve the needs of the public and the people most affected by the law.
“Thus far, agency coordination with farmers and ranchers is often lacking and at best inconsistent,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Listing decisions are often made using outdated, insufficient or inaccurate data that is not always publicly available.”
Too often, Stallman continued, ESA has been used to prevent farmers and ranchers from working their privately owned land, while little has been accomplished in the way of recovering imperiled species.
The 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act, which was expanded to include a series of bills related to ESA reform, addresses the problems Stallman noted in his letter by making ESA decisions more transparent and strengthening state and local involvement in ESA listing decisions and use of state data. The measure also provides transparency on ESA litigation costs and payment of attorney’s fees and makes ESA attorneys’ fee payments reasonable to ensure that scarce taxpayer dollars are prioritized.