Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

On September 13, 2006 in Redding, California, the Bush Administration will be holding another Cooperative Conservation listening session

Oregonians for  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 following:

* 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 such efforts.
* 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 available.
* 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 202-208-7574.
* Schedule - Please organize your schedule so that you and your employees can make one of remaining important opportunities. The remaining locations are:

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 efforts.
* 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 required are:

* Provide clear definitions of what constitutes threatened or endangered species and require better science - less speculation in listing determinations.
* 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 protection.
* 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 are:

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 document.

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

Home Contact


Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2006, All Rights Reserved