Two House Republicans announced that they will form a working group to consider reforms to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, according to The Washington Post.
Republican Reps. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas and Dan Newhouse of Washington will lead the working group, which seeks to modernize the ESA despite staunch Democratic opposition to any rollbacks, The Washington Post reported. Conservatives allege the act allows federal regulators to obstruct mining, logging and drilling development projects by citing the perceived need for species preservation, the outlet reported.
“The working group will focus on improving the Endangered Species Act and supporting common sense changes that increase transparency, save taxpayer money, ensure local involvement in species conservation and the designation process,” Republican Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, a member of the working group, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“For far too long the federal government has been making listing decisions based on secret science and pseudo-science, including studies that do not allow for peer-review of the underlying data,” he added. “The government shouldn’t have anything to hide if these listings are indeed based on merit utilizing the best available science.”
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Republican Reps. Mark Amodei of Nevada, Cliff Bentz of Oregon, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Jerry Carl of Alabama, John Carter of Texas, John Duarte of California and Harriet Hageman of Wyoming will serve on the working group, according to The Washington Post.
The group “is taking a comprehensive look at how species are listed, delisted, the designation of critical habitat, and how agencies coordinate regarding the Endangered Species Act,” Mike Marinella, communications director for Newhouse, told the DCNF. “The group will plan to make legislative and regulatory recommendations for delisting species and modernizing the structure of the ESA.”
The Biden administration extended the ESA’s protections to cover “critical habitats,” which included in its scope areas currently unsuitable to accommodate endangered species. The Senate voted in May to repeal the rule that imposed the expanded definition.
Congressional Democrats erupted when former president Donald Trump sought to rollback ESA protections in 2019, with then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling the rollback to “a slap in the face” and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi calling the move a “disastrous decision” that “shamefully abandons our moral responsibility to be good stewards of our planet,” according to USA Today.
Under the ESA, federal agencies may not permit, fund or take any action that would severely degrade or destroy critical habitats for species listed under its protections, according to The Associated Press. The ESA “attempts to protect endangered species on private land through a regulatory approach that essentially grants property rights to species while limiting, without compensation, the property rights of the individuals who own the land,” according to a 2002 Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation report.
“The way Washington bureaucrats are currently enacting the ESA has resulted in weaponization of the federal government against anything it deems inappropriate,” Hageman told the DCNF. “It has become a way to control the people, not protect anything endangered.”
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