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Pombo wants Schwarzenegger, other govs to help change Endangered Species Act


Associated Press



The California rancher and congressman whose committee oversees environmental policy wants to enlist some home-state muscle in his campaign to rewrite the Endangered Species Act.

House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., said he'll seek backing for his legislative efforts from Arnold Schwarzenegger and other Western state governors during a meeting this weekend of the Western Governors' Association.

"I think that having the governor on board is critical for a lot of different reasons, particularly the impact that the act has had on California, and I think he also helps influence a lot of people," Pombo said in an interview.

"It's critical to have the governors on board with any legislative effort that we make," Pombo said.

Pombo's committee passed bills this year that would change the 30-year-old act by requiring peer review before a species can be listed as endangered and allowing critical habitat to be designated for species only when "practicable."

Environmentalists said the changes would gut the landmark law. Pombo and other property rights supporters said they were needed to improve a law they contend creates unreasonable regulatory hurdles for property owners while failing to help many species.

The Western Governors Association, which has 18 member governors now split between 12 Republicans and six Democrats, has supported reforming the Endangered Species Act for years. The group has convened an "Endangered Species Act Executive Summit" for Friday and Saturday in San Diego.

"What the governors would say is that the act is not meeting its intended purpose, which is to recover species," said Shaun McGrath, the group's program manager.

Schwarzenegger is expected to attend, but the moderate Republican has sided with environmentalists on some issues, and a spokeswoman said he hasn't taken a position on rewriting the Endangered Species Act.

"As the ESA reform legislation makes its way through Congress next year the governor will be tracking it closely to make sure California's interests are represented," said spokeswoman Ashley Snee.

The Western Governors Association has endorsed legislation changing the act in the past. Pombo said he will ask for the group's support and lobbying as he tries to get his bills through the full House and the Senate after Congress reconvenes in January.





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

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