Western Caucus Members Urge Modernization of Endangered Species Act
Washington, June 16, 2021 | Elizabeth Daniels (202-280-8720)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) hosted a Special Order to discuss the successes and failures of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), highlight species recovery efforts across the country, and promote commonsense policies to modernize the landmark species protection law.
Western Caucus Members spoke about the impacts of local ESA listings on local communities and emphasized the importance of state and local control over species management.
Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) expressed his concern about the Biden Administration’s plan to roll back several important improvements made to the ESA, and he underscored the need for continued modernization of the oudated and ineffective law.
“Oftentimes, ESA regulations negatively impact the very people we need as conservation partners. Through land-use restrictions, reduced property values, and costly permitting requirements, unilateral and far-sweeping listing decisions remove incentives for these local partners to come to the table,” said Chairman Newhouse. “We must empower our local, state, and tribal partners to collaborate on comprehensive recovery and conservation efforts, and we know this to be true: More stringent regulations will not lead to more successful species recovery.”
Vice Chair Pete Stauber (MN-08) described the harmful impacts of gray wolf predation on local communities in northeastern Minnesota and how important it is to retain state management of the species.
“The Endangered Species Act was passed with good intentions, but has been weaponized by radicals,” said Vice Chair Stauber. “The purpose of the ESA is pretty straight forward: to protect endangered species. Tragically, the ESA is not always being used for conservation. It’s being weaponized as a way to advance the Far Left’s radical agenda; it’s being used by the Green New Deal Democrat Party to stop progress. We need to update the Endangered Species Act to allow us hunt, fish, mine, harvest timber, farm, and for other responsible uses. Let’s reform the Endangered Species Act and maintain our way of life.”
Vice Chair Bruce Westerman (AR-04) spoke of the responsibility to protect wildlife that are actually the most at risk of extinction by restoring the Endangered Species Act to its original core function.
“Ambiguous language and lawsuits have allowed special interest groups to hijack the Endangered Species Act and use it as weapon against any projects or actions they oppose. This has had a particularly devastating impact on rural economies across the country as red tape lawsuits block important projects and essential agency actions,” said Vice Chair Westerman. “Earlier this month, the Biden Administration announced it’s rolling back significant ESA reforms. It’s another example of how out of touch this Administration is with rural Americans – and endangered species as well. Under these policies, rural America is now what’s at most risk of being endangered. Republican or Democrat, we can all agree that we want our most vulnerable species not just to survive – but to thrive. We must return the ESA to its original intent.”
Rep. Jim Baird (IN-04) spoke on the exacerbation of harmful drought impacts on lakeside communities near Monticello, Indiana due to U.S. Fish & Wildlife regulations set for the purported protection of a species of mussel.
“As an animal scientist and a farmer, I’m a lifelong conservationist. I value the well-intentioned effort of the Endangered Species Act to protect and conserve our nation’s most iconic species that define our landscapes and have shaped our heritage,” said Rep. Jim Baird. “Due to years of misinterpretation of the ESA, unchecked actions by unelected bureaucrats, and radical environmentalism, this once-valuable law designated to protect America’s natural beauty has instead proven time and time again to be a death knell to the actual ecosystems and nearby communities. As thought leaders and policymakers, we have an important responsibility to preserve the natural beauty that God has bestowed on our land. The Endangered Species Act was established with that mission at heart but has gone frightfully awry. Now more than ever, it is time to modernize this important law.”
Rep. Tracey Mann (KS-01) described the important voluntary conservation efforts across the plains in Kansas and nearby regional states to support lesser-prairie chicken populations, and the misguided announcement by the Biden Administration considering to list the species under the Endangered Species Act.
“In their work to help the lesser-prairie chicken, Kansans have conserved more than 40,000 acres of habitat through the Conservation Reserve Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and private investments,” said Rep. Mann. “The potential ESA listing flies in the face of years spent and millions invested in voluntary conservation and goes against the clear data that the population has increased under those efforts. As usual, President Biden believes federal overreach is the answer to a local and state issue, and his Administration lacks trust in private landowners to take care of their own land. I strongly and vehemently oppose the listing of the lesser-prairie chicken and I will continue to push back on the Biden Administration’s egregious overreach.”
Rep. Claudia Tenney (NY-22) urged commonsense policies regarding the implementation of the management plans for the piping plover, including in the face of vital infrastructure improvements needed in New York state that are currently blocked due to federal measures instigated for the species.
“So many communities have suffered from the whims of bureaucrats in Washington and Albany who just don’t seem to care and seem to be hiding behind these rules and regulations when there are reasonable alternatives that will preserve the natural environment, as well as the human environment,” said Rep. Tenney. “I am concerned that, to make matters worse, the Biden Administration is barreling down a path of appeasement to the Left lobbyists and special interests. Our communities need reasonable compromises to ensure the prosperity and enjoyment of our natural environment for all; this includes the economy as well as wildlife and the natural environment.”
Executive Vice Chair Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) described the abuse of the Endangered Species Act in California and its impacts on timber lands and the exacerbation of catastrophic wildfires in the West.
“In the time of drought we have in the West and in my home state of California, and the ongoing problems we have with non-managed timber lands and U.S. Forest Service lands – we need to up our game on forestry, forest management, thinning, and use these materials for the good of people,” said Rep. LaMalfa. “And yet, we’re burning millions of acres every year. You can trace this back to the misuse and abuse of the Endangered Species Act to stop and block the type of work we need to be doing. We need to look at the root causes of these problems under the Endangered Species Act.”