Friday, January 23, 2004

Walden Applauds Smith’s Introduction of Endangered Species Act Reform Legislation

Smith ESA reform legislation identical to Walden bill introduced in 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) today applauded Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) for introducing companion Senate legislation to Walden’s bill to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Smith’s bill, the Sound Science for Endangered Species Planning Act (S. 2009), is identical to legislation introduced by Walden on April 8, 2003, which would require that greater weight be given to field-tested and scientifically reviewed data under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Since the 2001 water crisis in the Klamath Basin, Walden has helped lead the effort in Congress to require ESA decisions to be field-tested and peer-reviewed. In April of 2001, more than 1,200 farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin were denied irrigation water following a decision made by federal officials under the ESA. The water-shut off was later determined by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences to have been made without sound scientific justification.

"Providing independent, scientific peer review of decisions made under the ESA is essential not only to safeguard the rights of private citizens, but also to protect the very species that the law in intended to protect," said Walden. "As we saw in the Klamath Basin, a scientifically unjustified decision not only brought widespread economic harm to an entire community, but also had the potential to harm the fish species on whose behalf the water-shut off was made. I’m grateful that Sen. Smith has joined me in the effort to improve the ESA, and I look forward to working with him on this critical issue."

Walden’s ESA reform legislation (HR 1662) has been cosponsored by 62 House members, including eight Democrats. HR 1662 had also been endorsed by 14 state and national organizations, including the Oregon Wheat Growers League, the Oregon Potato Commission, the Oregon State Board of Agriculture, the Klamath Water Users Associations, the American Farm Bureau, the National Grange, the National Association of Homebuilders, the National Association of Realtors, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the National Water Resources Association.

Congressman Walden represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committee on Resources.