September 19, 2005
Bipartisan ESA Modernization
Measure Says "32-Year-Old Law Needs Fixing"
FALLS, OR - Congressman Greg Walden's work to
modernize the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will take
on new focus today when he, House Resources
Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) and
Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) unveil a
bipartisan 74-page revision of the Law at a press
conference at the California State Capitol Building
in Sacramento. Walden will then travel to Klamath
Falls, Oregon, for a regional press conference to
announce the proposed revisions. The ESA was
established in 1973 and has not been updated
32-year-old law needs the fix that we're offering in
a bipartisan way today. It's time to make the
federal agencies charged with administering this law
open up their process to the public. It's time to
set standards to make sure the data they use
represent the best scientific data available. It's
time to make sure that state governors have a direct
role to bring their vast resources into the
process. It's time to reach out to private property
owners in order to protect their rights and
encourage their participation in recovery efforts.
And it's time to make sure no region of the country
ever suffers again as the Klamath Basin did when
faulty decisions by the government led to disaster,"
Klamath Basin is ground zero in the fight to improve
the Endangered Species Act," Chairman Pombo said.
"People throughout the area, and in many other parts
of America, have been affected by this law's
dangerous, unintended consequences. Congressman
Walden has led the charge in our nation's capital to
strengthen the ESA's scientific standards so that we
avoid the consequences of poor decisions like the
one to shut off water to Klamath Basin farmers and
ranchers in 2001. This bill will do just that and
more, and with Greg's leadership, I am confident
that we will win support in the Congress."
measure, HR 3824, titled the "Threatened and
Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005," requires
the government to use "the most accurate, reliable,
and relevant" scientific data available in all of
its decisions. It also requires the government to
"establish criteria that must be met to determine
which data constitute the best available scientific
data" and emphasizes the need to use empirical and
peer reviewed data when making decisions regarding
species listing and recovery efforts.
comes to the fate of a species or the fate of a
region, we want to make sure that government
scientists are relying on sound data, that all of
the information in their decisions is made public
and accessible on the internet, and that there are
standards in place governing the process.
Otherwise, the public is kept in the dark and we run
the risk of decisions based on data and assumptions
that may not pass the test of peer review," added
with many parts of my Congressional District, the
Klamath area represents one of the more obvious
cases of the dysfunctional application of the
Endangered Species Act. As such, I am pleased to be
working with my colleagues, Chairman Pombo and
Congressman Walden, on strengthening the Act so that
species can be recovered using the best scientific
data available. Under the new recovery plan
structure dictated by the 'Threatened and Endangered
Species Recovery Act,' more resources are focused on
bringing species back from the brink of extinction
while creating more transparency in the process for
those whose land is affected," said Congressman
proposed law requires the government - for the first
time - to prioritize listed species most in need of
recovery, develop timelines and recovery strategies
based on those priorities, and report on those
efforts to the Congress and the public on a regular
went on to say, "If you're serious about saving
species from extinction, and you have limited
resources and time, then it only makes sense to
require prioritization of which species need help
first. Following prioritization, it is critical
that agencies develop recovery plans based on the
order of need and based on the best available
science. This much-needed update to the law
requires all of that, and more.
call on the agencies to work closely with private
land owners in a new partnership to develop 10, 20
and 30-year conservation plans. Species in need do
not recognize the distinction between private and
public lands. And under this law, the government
will not only provide new incentives to help private
land owners with conservation efforts, but the
measure also provides compensation to land owners
who would be forced to stop using their property.
right to think that the public's interest in
protecting species should be the sole burden of
private land owners. If the public, through the
laws of the federal government, wants costly actions
to occur on private land, then the public must be
willing to step up and help compensate private land
owners where appropriate for their loss.
over-arching goal with these revisions is to make
the law more successfully achieve the goals that
were established 32 years ago when it was enacted.
Through the fixes in this legislation we improve the
standards for data. We put sunshine on the process
by making all the information used in the
government's decisions available to the public on
the internet. We establish a clear and formal role
for the governors, private land owners, Tribal land
owners and local governments. We prioritize the
work of the government to do the most for species
most in need. And we set realistic timelines for
actions and decisions.
adopted, these modest changes will bring tangible
and positive results for the environment and the
people we represent."
is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on
Resources, of which Walden is a member, this
Wednesday, September 21, 2005.
Guest opinion piece by Congressman Walden on the
need to update and modernize the 32-year-old
Endangered Species Act.
Walden, 48, has represented the people of Oregon's 2nd
District since 1999. He chairs the Resources
Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.