Republicans plan to target ESA’s 'destructive cost'

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams will appear before a House Natural Resources subcommittee.

July 17, 2023

House Republicans are doubling down in opposition to the Endangered Species Act just days after releasing an Interior-Environment funding bill that would block several recent high-profile ESA listing decisions.

The Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries will hold an oversight hearing Tuesday that will focus on what Republicans are calling the enormous costs and regulatory burdens created by the bedrock environmental law.

The Endangered Species Act turns 50 years old in December, and the anniversary has sparked renewed debate among lawmakers over the law and how it's implemented.

Tuesday's hearing — titled "ESA at 50: The Destructive Cost of the ESA" — comes after the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee last week released a fiscal 2024 budget bill that proposes slashing funding for the Interior Department, and includes several riders that would prevent the agency from using appropriated funding to implement ESA listing decisions.

That includes forbidding the Fish and Wildlife Service from implementing a rule change that moved the northern long-eared bat from threatened to endangered.


The Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries has previously taken a critical view of the Endangered Species Act.

During a subcommittee hearing in April to discuss resolutions reversing protection rules for the northern long-eared bat and the lesser prairie chicken, subcommittee Chair Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) blasted the law, saying that "ESA regulations have been used as tools that many times have harmed communities, particularly those in rural communities."

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), the subcommittee's ranking member, and other Democrats defended the law at that hearing.

"How sad that today’s conservatives seem so hostile to conserving wildlife," Huffman said.


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By:  Scott Streater
Source: E&E Daily