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For Immediate Release
April 27, 2004

Chairman Pombo Issues ESA Report,
"A Mandate for Modernization"

Resources Committee to begin efforts to repair broken law

Washington, DC - House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) issued a report on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) today entitled, The ESA at 30: A Mandate for Modernization. The full committee will begin its efforts to improve the Act with a hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 10:00 am in 1324 Longworth.

"On its thirtieth anniversary, it is now more clear than ever that the Endangered Species Act has failed," Chairman Pombo said. "Unintended consequences have rendered this a broken law that checks species in for conservation and recovery, but never checks them out. Congress has a responsibility to improve the ESA to focus our efforts on results for species recovery, and that begins here at the Resources Committee."

The Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1973, giving the federal government the authority to identify endangered species and the means to conserve and recover them to healthy populations. In this light, the Act has failed. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, only 12 of the law's roughly 1300 protected species have recovered.

"Many observers of the Endangered Species Act have gauged the law's performance on how many species are listed annually and have avoided extinction," Pombo continued. "However, merely preventing extinction is not a long-term measurable success, nor was it the intent of the law. The law was intended to conserve and recover America's endangered species."

"In essence, the ESA has been an inflexible managed-care program for species that has applied the same treatment to roughly 1300 species over the last thirty years," Pombo said. "Only twelve have recovered. That is less that a .01 percent rate of success, and that is unacceptable. If this were the state of American medicine today, there would be outrage."

"There must be more accountability for results in the ESA. We have to update and modernize this law for the 21st century, change our approaches, and focus on improving our results in recoveries. My report clearly illustrates this need by outlining the failures and the unintended consequences."

The Resources Committee will hold its first hearing on ESA modernization tomorrow on H.R. 2933, the Critical Habitat Reform Act, authored by Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA). This legislation will help focus the Act on results for species recovery by moving the designation of critical habitat into the recovery planning stage for listed species.

Chairman Pombo's report: The ESA at 30: A Mandate for Modernization

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