Staples told the Committee that rather than supporting proven conservation efforts, the Endangered Species Act has been used to suffocate opportunities that promote species propagation through non-governmental, non-regulatory methods.

“Texas landowners understand the value of natural resource preservation. Based on a conservative estimate, billions of dollars have been invested to implement proven technologies that preserve our natural resources by, among other things, controlling erosion, improving water quality and eradicating invasive species.” Staples said. “A sad irony of the implementation of the Endangered Species Act is that it promotes regulation over incentives, often to the detriment of the species it proposes to protect. Rather than supporting proven conservation efforts, the ESA has been used to suffocate opportunities that promote species propagation through non-governmental, non-regulatory methods.”

The Commissioner testified that the ESA “has been used to accomplish the goals of radicals and those seeking to expand the reach of government.” Interestingly, he noted, a more recent shift in implementation is the focus on casting regulation as voluntary. He said traditionally Texas farmers, ranchers and landowners have appreciated the concept of voluntary conservation and often participated in those efforts.

“With a history that includes decimation of agriculture to protect the spotted owl and the delta smelt, the need for Congress to stop the abuse of the ESA could never be more pressing. With approximately 20 new species listings on USFWS’ agenda, we must conclude that future designations could result in large swaths of Texas being declared habitat for endangered or threatened animals, resulting in one of the largest land and water grabs in modern times,” Staples concluded.