Endangered Species Act
NSSGA believes that protection of endangered species and the regulation of land use are important public policy issues that should be addressed by Congress. We support a scientifically based program that takes a balanced approach to protect endangered species, recognizes private property rights and continued economic growth.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a federal land use statute that directly affects tens of millions of acres of private property. Enacted in 1973, the law was designed to protect threatened and endangered species by identifying species in these categories and then improving their status through critical habitat designation until the species no longer is threatened or endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (F&WS) within the U.S. Department of Interior implements the land-based creatures, flora and fauna provisions of the ESA, and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service in the U.S. Department of Commerce administers the living marine resources and anadromous species (salmon) along with their critical habitats.
In 1982, Congress amended ESA by directing that listings may be based solely on the “best scientific and commercial evidence available.” Economic consequences may not be considered. Currently, scores of wildlife and plant species are being submitted to the F&WS for listing as either “endangered” or “threatened” under provisions of the ESA.
NSSGA is a proud member of the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition (NESARC), which is a broad based coalition of roughly 150 member organizations, representing millions of individuals across the United States, that is dedicated to bringing balance back to the Endangered Species Act. NESARC membership includes rural irrigators, municipalities, farmers, electric utilities and many other individuals and organizations that are directly affected by the ESA.
- NSSGA supports reforming ESA to strike a balance between the goals of protecting and conserving threatened and endangered species with our country’s need for continued economic growth and utilization of natural resources.
- There is significant evidence that the process of determining which species should be protected has lost its integrity and has resulted in listings that are not supported by sound science.
- ESA mandates have severely restricted the use and value of privately owned property. When severe restrictions occur without compensation by the federal government, the Act shifts to individual citizens costs and burdens that should be shared by all citizens. The ESA must be modified to justly compensate landowners in a timely fashion when private property is preserved in a habitat conservation plan.
- Listings, designations of critical habitat and the development of necessary recovery plans, often are not accompanied by adequate public notice and opportunity for comment. The Act should provide for earlier and more meaningful opportunities for citizens to participate, more citizen involvement in recovery plans, and a more prominent role in the consultation process.
- The ESA offers landowners few incentives to protect species on their property. The Act should provide incentives to conserve habitat and to provide regulatory certainty to property owners who voluntarily participate in conservation plans.
NESARC recently announced the passage of H.R. 1662, “ The Endangered Species Data Quality Act of 2004” and H.R. 2933, “The Critical Habitat Reform Act” by the House Resources Committee. Information on these Bills. Information on NESARC.
- Steven L. McKeel's, Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., Testimony Before the Committee on Resources U.S. House of Representatives(April 2004)
- Joy Wilson's Statement Before the House Resource Committee on the Need to Update and Improve the Endangered Species Act (October 2003)
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