House members, representing a broad geographic range, announced the creation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Working Group. This Working Group, led by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Hastings (R-Wash.) and Western Caucus Co-Chair Lummis (R-Wyo.), will examine the ESA from many angles. Throughout this year, the Working Group will hold a series of events, forums and hearings that will invite discussion and input on ways in which the ESA (last reauthorized in 1988) may be working well, how it could be updated, and how to boost its effectiveness for both people and species.
Last Congress, the Natural Resources Committee held a series of hearings examining the impact of ESA-related litigation and settlement agreements. The Committee found that hundreds of ESA lawsuits have been filed over the past five years and that tens of millions of dollars have been awarded in taxpayer-funded attorneys’ fees. Such litigation takes time and resources away from real species recovery efforts. In addition, the administration will be making listing decisions on nearly 800 species by 2016, including 160 this year, as a result of settlement agreements.
The Working Group will continue to examine the impacts of litigation along with a number of other specific topics and questions.
More Working Group information is at http://naturalresources.house.gov/ESAworkinggroup.
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