From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 18 - July 29, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Endangered Species Act reform

by Cat Urbigkit

The House Resources Committee of the U.S. Congress approved a pair of bills last week that would go a long way toward reforming the Endangered Species Act.

Wyoming Representative Barbara Cubin co-sponsored two the bills that were subject to a sometimes contentious markup hearing: HR 1662, the Sound Science for Endangered Species Act Planning Act and HR 2933, the Critical Habitat Reform Act.

"Too many citizens are shut out because of the unfair application of the ESA," said Cubin in a press release. "From the supposed Preble's mouse on down to the potential designation of the sage grouse, the shoddy science collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may lock many folks away from the rightful use of their lands. It's not unreasonable to expect that the law require a sound scientific basis before restrictions can be placed on potentially thousands of acres of public or private land."

"People in Wyoming and the West know that the ESA is a flawed law," said Cubin. "Sound science should be the basis for the enforcement of the ESA, not 'eyeballing' mice for an identification that even DNA samples cannot prove conclusively. Federal agencies ought to cooperate with the states and communities involved, not hide the data used to make their determinations."

The bills provide for a system of scientific peer review that must meet National Academy of Sciences standards; tightens and defines the critical habitat designation process; requires the Secretary of the Interior to seek out and consider information from local governments in critical habitat designations; requires federal officials to actively solicit information from state officials and requires the Secretary of Interior to make the determination on status of a threatened or endangered species only after data is collected in the field that supports the decision.

The bills may now proceed for consideration by the full House.

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