September 26, 2016
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced final revisions to regulations governing the petition process under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:
“This announcement is a call for help from the administration and an acknowledgement that ESA is broken. These revisions give the appearance that state input will improve and that closed-door settlements will no longer drive petition and listing decisions. Unfortunately, serial environmental litigation will continue to drive ESA policy, and there is nothing the agencies can do about it unless we reform the underlying statute. No matter who wins the White House in November, the law’s failings necessitate reform.”
In 2011, the Obama Administration negotiated, behind closed-doors, sweeping Endangered Species Act settlements with two litigious groups greatly increasing ESA listings and habitat designations, and impacting tens of thousands of acres and river miles across the country.
These settlements shut out affected states, local governments, private property owners and other stakeholders, and lacked the most current and best scientific data available, which is required in such listing decisions.
On August 23, 2016, the Center of Biological Diversity, one of the groups, noticed an intent to sue
on 417 species petitions. The action is another example of excessive litigation driving ESA-related policy decisions.