House passes Endangered Species Transparency Act

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 29, 2014 - The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed H.R. 4315, the “Endangered Species Transparency Act,” which would require the government to make public all data it uses to decide whether a species should be listed as endangered.

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The measure also would require the Interior Secretary to track and report all litigation costs associated with the legislation, and cap the hourly fees paid to lawyers who win in cases filed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The vote was 233-190.

Republican supporters of the bill say the public has a right to know how and why decisions regarding endangered species are made and how their tax dollars are being spent. Opponents say the measure is going to increase red tape and could possibly lead to more poaching.

The measure has little chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Even so, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a statement before the vote saying President Obama would veto the measure if it were to pass.

H.R. 4315 “would add yet another administratively burdensome reporting requirement to an already long list of reporting requirements, diverting limited agency resources away from species recovery efforts and toward more paperwork,” OMB said.

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) applauded the House action.

“The ESA, while designed to protect species from endangerment of extinction, has proven to be ineffective and immensely damaging to our members' ability to stay in business,” Brice Lee, PLC president and Colorado rancher, said in a statement. “During the nearly 40 years since the ESA was passed and over 25 years since Congress last reauthorized the law, our industry has come to recognize the Act as greatly flawed and outdated. Less than 2 percent of species placed on the endangered species list have ever been deemed recovered,” he said.

NCBA President Bob McCAn said the ESA is in great need of modernization.

“While not a complete fix, this piece of legislation takes some of the necessary steps to repairing this broken law,” he said.

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