Today, the House Natural Resources Committee held two Full Committee field hearings in Casper, Wyoming and Billings, Montana on “State and Local Efforts to Protect Species, Jobs, Property, and Multiple Use Amidst a New War on the West.” At these hearings, witnesses discussed how federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings can impact local jobs and the economy and how federal litigation often stands in the way of successful local and state recovery efforts.
The Natural Resources Committee has held a series of hearings on the ESA and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings this year announced the creation of the Endangered Species Act Congressional Working Group. These field hearings are part of the Committee’s efforts to hear directly from local entities and private landowners on ways in which the ESA works well and how it could be improved.
“Ramped up ESA listings and habitat designations through executive orders and closed-door settlements with litigious groups are wreaking havoc on private landowners, multiple use, agriculture, rural economies, rural timber communities, energy producers, and even states’ own species conservation activities,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). “Rather than ensuring the federal government cooperates with states ‘to the maximum extent practicable,’ on major actions affecting land or water within states’ borders as ESA requires, this Administration is allowing ‘sue and settle’ to dictate how federal agencies use taxpayer-funded resources and how they prioritize endangered species activities.”
“It is so important that we get it right when it comes to making listing decisions. We need sound science, and open data that can be replicated. We need innovative, collaborative approaches to wildlife management that offer incentives for sound management. We need a clear distinction in our minds about what constitutes conservation: on the ground stewardship, or repeated court battles. We need a common understanding of what constitutes success when it comes to the Endangered Species Act,” said Rep. Cynthia Lummis (WY-At Large). “In short, we need a new 21st Century conservation ethic that is not clouded by accusations and rancor. We can and should do better for our wildlife.” More....