On September 13, 2006 in
Redding, California, the Bush Administration will
be holding another Cooperative Conservation
Food and Shelter 9/11/06
They have organized 24 sessions throughout the
United States, which are designed to solicit
information on incentives, partnership programs
and regulations that can improve results and
promote cooperative conservation and environmental
partnerships. We see this as an excellent
opportunity to call for meaningful reform to both
the ESA and NEPA. So far, AFRC members and staff
have been joined by state and local elected
officials, labor leaders, farm bureau
representatives, homebuilders, cattlemen, wheat
growers, consulting foresters, water users and
recreationists, at similar sessions in Spokane,
Helena and Redmond.
It is imperative that we have a significant
turnout at the remaining sessions and that we
deliver a concise and coordinated message saying
"Thank you for coming to listen to us because we
have plenty to say about the need to reform and
update the Endangered Species Act and the National
Environmental Policy Act."
In preparing your remarks, we suggest the
* Make Specific Recommendations - The
Administration is looking for specific examples of
experiences with the ESA, NEPA and other
environmental laws and regulations. It is
important that your remarks identify specific
issues, regulations and policies that should be
addressed in any administrative improvements
package. If you have been involved in successful
efforts, explain what made the effort work.
Similarly, if you have been involved in efforts
that have not succeeded, explain what obstacles
existed and what needs to change to facilitate
* Stress the Need for Timely Improvements - We
need to encourage the Administration to make
improvements to the ESA and NEPA this year. To the
extent that the Administration has policies,
guidance and regulatory improvements under
consideration, they should act as quickly as
possible to finalize and implement those
improvements so that we can gain the benefit of
that effort sooner rather than later.
* Listening Session Format - The format appears to
be that after opening comments and maybe an
initial panel of speakers, there will be an
opportunity for individuals to provide comments.
Individual speakers will be limited to two
minutes. There will be no pre-registration, so
show up early to get either a number or sign up on
the list. The sessions have a professional outside
facilitator to manage the meeting. Every session
will be recorded and a transcript will be made
* Written Comments - The Administration is also
accepting written comments for the record until
September 30, which can be submitted
electronically at <http://cooperativeconservation.gov/>
http://cooperativeconservation.gov, mailed to
Cooperative Conservation Assistant, U.S.
Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, NW,
MS5258, Washington, DC 20240, or faxed to
* Schedule - Please organize your schedule so that
you and your employees can make one of remaining
important opportunities. The remaining locations
September 13, Redding, California
1 p.m., Cascade Theatre, 1733 Market St
(Undersecretary Mark Rey to attend)
September 28, Colton, California
10 a.m., Colton High School Auditorium
ESA Talking Points:
* It has been 31 years since the ESA became law.
While its intentions were good, the reality is
that we've done a terrible job of saving and
recovering species - less than 1%. It's time to
update and modernize the ESA regulations so that
the federal agencies use the best available
science in decision-making, incentives exist to
encourage landowners to participate in recovery
efforts, and we involve local, state and tribal
governments in the process.
* To ensure sound decision-making and better
science, all ESA decisions need to comply with the
Data Quality Act. Data requirements for listing
petitions, decisions and critical habitat
designations need to be improved and all data must
be made available to the public.
* With 90% of all listed species being on private
lands, there must be the opportunity for
cooperative, incentive based solutions to recover
species. To make these efforts a reality there
needs to be expedited agency reviews as well as
the application of incidental take authority and
No Surprises assurances for voluntary conservation
* It's time to bring balance into protecting and
recovering species. Economic impacts and benefits
should be considered before a final designation of
critical habitat. We must do a better job of
recovering species without endangering the jobs
and livelihoods of American families.
* The areas where the most attention to reform is
* Provide clear definitions of what constitutes
threatened or endangered species and require
better science - less speculation in listing
* Be more specific on what constitutes Section 9
prohibition on "take".
* Establish consistent rules, policies and
procedures for designating critical habitat.
* Strengthen and broaden incidental take
* Simplify and reduce Section 7 consultations.
NEPA Talking Points:
. While NEPA is a simple statute, the Council on
Environmental Quality regulations is over 25
pages. Furthermore, during the last 30 years, the
Courts have added additional requirements that are
found neither in the statute nor the regulations.
Therefore, it is time to update and modernize NEPA.
. It is critically important that CEQ procedures
are simplified and streamlined to allow federal
agency projects to be more promptly and less
expensively implemented while at the same time
reducing the likelihood of courts injunctions.
. NEPA has become so unworkable for the land
management agencies that there has been a trend to
avoid NEPA analysis by expanding the use of
categorical exclusions. Plus Congress has
legislated streamlined NEPA procedures.
. The areas where there is the most urgent reform
o Clarifying the limits upon expansive analysis
and discussion of differing "scientific" opinion
where there is no consensus.
o Reduce the inclusion of overwhelming amounts of
data and information in EISs that are not
essential for reasoned decisions.
o Narrow the definition of "new information" that
requires a supplemental NEPA document.
o Clarify that "important" material can be
incorporated by reference in an appendix to a NEPA
o Reign in the expansive requirements for
cumulative effects analysis.
o Clarifying the types of projects considered
"major federal actions" and limiting the analysis
required for minor federal projects or decisions.
For more specific information regarding suggested
comments please contact AFRC at 503-222-9505