Legislation threatens to gut Endangered Species Act

(Below is a guest posting by CGF volunteer Chris Montague-Breakwell. Guest postings reflect the author’s viewpoints, which may or may not be shared by Committee for Green Foothills. -Brian)

Last Thursday (9/22) the House Resources Committee approved the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 (TESRA). The bill, crafted by Richard Pombo (R-CA), ostensibly revises the 1973 Endangered Species Act to better protect both environment and landowners’ rights.

Despite the name, the bill will drastically weaken the Endangered Species Act. Important problems with the legislation include:
· Removal of the critical habitat clause in the original ESA with no guarantee that land necessary for species recovery will be protected.
· Removal of the Cabinet-level Endangered Species Committee responsible for resolving conflict between landowners and species conservation.
· Federal government must respond within 90 days of a proposal by developers. If the deadline is missed, development may take place regardless of effect on the wildlife and environment.

The ESA has protected and expanded endangered species population. The Bald Eagle, the Whooping Crane and the California Condor are but a few of the ESA’s success stories. Supporters of the TESRA claim the ESA has failed, using dubious statistics to back their claims. But TESRA legislation does not address ESA shortcomings, instead focusing on limiting the power of the original act. The bill could come to a vote in the House as early as this week.

The Mercury News has an editorial on the TESRA bill.

Earth Justice has an extensive review of the bill.

For the full text of the bill and legislative progress go to the House Resources Committee site.

-Chris Montague-Breakwell

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