Today, the House Natural Resources Committee held an oversight hearing entitled “Defining Species Conservation Success: Tribal, State, and Local Stewardship Vs. Federal Courtroom Battles and Sue-and-Settle Practices.” At the hearing, Members and witnesses compared the effective conservation efforts happening on state, local, and tribal levels with the seemingly never-ending cycle of Endangered Species Act (ESA) litigation that often stands in the way of recovery efforts.
This hearing was the first in a series of hearings this Committee will hold to examine ways to ensure that the ESA is working efficiently and effectively for both people and species affected by this law.
“During the last Congress, this Committee held several hearings that demonstrated how the ESA has been used as a tool for litigation and how skillful lawyers are benefitting much more than species. Ironically, the same litigious groups that routinely criticize the federal government’s failure to meet ESA listing or critical habitat deadlines are the same groups that are quick to claim that the status quo ESA successfully protects species by keeping the vast majority (over 98 percent) from ever getting off the list,” said Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). ”Fortunately, state, local, and tribal governments, and many private landowners not only care about species conservation, they’re doing it now, and in a manner that responsibly respects local economic activities, private property, and other uses. This is occurring despite the ever-growing litigation industry involving federal implementation of the Endangered Species Act.” Witnesses who testified before the Committee touted the success of state, local, and tribal conservation efforts and underscored the need for meaningful ESA reform. More....