McMorris Rodgers: Endangered Species Day Provides Opportunity to Examine the ESA and Need for Reform


(Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers released the following statement today in recognition of Endangered Species Day:

“May 18, 2007 is Endangered Species Day and an opportunity to focus on steps that can be taken to prevent extinction of valuable wildlife. It is also an opportunity to re-examine the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that has become a broken law in need of reform.

“The Endangered Species Act is an important piece of legislation that in Eastern Washington dictates how we use our land, how we transport our good to market, and even how much our electricity bills cost each month. From the pygmy rabbit to endangered salmon, the ESA has impacted our way of life in the Pacific Northwest.

“The ESA has gone unchanged for over 30 years. During that time we have been unable to make any common sense reforms to account for improvements in technology and a better understanding of the issues. It has become a source of conflict between federal regulators and communities and local landowners. Now is the time to move away from burdensome regulations, lawsuits and punitive settlements to a more balanced and collaborative approach to land use.

“We all share the goal of protecting our threatened or endangered species, however it is clear this law is in need of change. Originally adopted under the best intentions, ESA has failed to achieve its purpose of recovering endangered species to healthy and sustainable populations. Less than 1 percent has recovered in the Act’s history. Implementing recovery plans are often low priority and not properly monitored. Agencies are unaccountable for the effectiveness of the recovery efforts. Of the 35 domestic species delisted, 9 were removed due to extinction and 15 were removed as data errors. The remaining 11 species have been claimed as “recovered.” The primary factor in the recovery of several of these species was the ban on DDT, which was unrelated to and predated the Endangered Species Act.

“That is why I will continue to support ESA reform that uses scientific standards, focuses on species recovery, provide incentives, and compensate private property owners for the lost use of land. We have created an adversarial relationship with the people who are most critical to the goal of saving endangered species: America’s farmers, ranchers and private property owners. 90 percent of endangered species have habitat on private land. We must change our disincentives into real incentives so that we can begin our true goal of recovering species.”

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