Congressional letter urges commonsense on endangered species

March 31, 2009 07:00 PM

The Public Lands Council (PLC) applauded a letter sent by members of Congress to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, urging commonsense action on the consultation process for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

The letter, signed by a bipartisan group of 19 Representatives, expressed concern with language in the recent omnibus spending bill calling for review of a December 2008 regulation to streamline consultations under the ESA. 

"We have been working closely with Congress on this issue,” explained Skye Krebs, PLC President and rancher from Ione, Ore. "We appreciate that these 19 legislators joined our effort to ensure that the Endangered Species Act is as efficient and effective as possible.” 

Under the recently overturned regulation, proposed federal actions that are determined to have no effect on a species listed under the ESA would no longer be required to be approved through consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Relieving the FWS of the duty to be involved in actions unlikely to impact a listed species will free-up its scarce resources to address more of the actions that are likely to harm species. Additionally, the regulation would limit consultation under the ESA on climate change. The ESA was never intended to address greenhouse gas emissions and it should not be used for this purpose.

"The regulation was designed to improve the consultation process for the Endangered Species Act and free the Fish and Wildlife Service from unnecessary work,” said Krebs. "Overturning it only hinders our ability to protect and conserve endangered species.” 

The letter sent by members of Congress urged Secretary Salazar to complete the review of the December regulation as soon as possible and reinstate its provisions.  

"These Representatives understand that needless red tape is detrimental to the goals of the ESA,” said Krebs. "Improving the consultation process helps preserve listed species and allows for faster decisions on issues important to western ranchers.”

The signatories on the letter included Representatives Joe Baca, Marion Berry, Rob Bishop, Dan Boren, Paul Broun, Dennis Cardoza, Jason Chaffetz, Mike Coffman, Jim Costa, Elton Gallegly, Doc Hastings, Dean Heller, Wally Herger, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Ann Kirkpatrick, Betsy Markey, Jim Matheson, George Radanovich, and John Salazar. 

For questions or comments, e-mail Kim Watson, editor Beef Today.
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