House Committee OK Reform of Endangered Species ActBy Cathy Cash | ECT Staff Writer Published: May 2nd, 2014
Four bills backed by NRECA and aimed at updating the Endangered Species Act to make its procedures, costs and species recovery more transparent cleared the House Natural Resources Committee April 30.
NRECA will discuss these bills at its Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., May 4-6. The association said co-op leaders attending the conference should plan to visit lawmakers on Capitol Hill to encourage their support of these measures.
“These bills taken together will modernize and improve the 40-year-old law that has led to delays and financial hardship for co-op projects in the areas where species are listed,” said Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president for government relations. “We will continue to support the legislation on their trek to a vote by the full House.”
The committee approved the following bills:
• H.R. 4315 which would require data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions be made publicly available on the Internet;
• H.R. 4316 which would require annual reporting and comprehensive tracking of ESA litigation costs;
• H.R. 4317 which would requires the federal government to disclose to affected states all data used prior to any listing or proposed ESA listing decision; and
• H.R. 4318 which would cap hourly fees paid to attorneys that prevail in cases filed under ESA, consistent with current law under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
“There is widespread support for conserving endangered species, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement,” said Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who sponsored H.R. 4315. “These are four common sense bills that are very narrowly focused and make targeted improvements to the law in the areas of transparency and species recovery.”
In addition to NRECA’s support, the legislation has the endorsement of more than 25 organizations, including U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Family Farm Alliance and the American Farm Bureau Federation, the committee said.