McMorris Rodgers Introduces Legislation to Shed Light on ESA Compliance Costs

(Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers today reintroduced the Endangered Species Transparency Act of 2007 (H.R. 2530). The bill requires Power Marketing Administrations, including the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), to estimate and report the direct and indirect costs associated with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to each wholesale power customer on a monthly billing basis.

“In the Pacific Northwest, ESA costs related to endangered salmon have risen considerably over the last several years due to federal court-mandates and other compliance programs,” said McMorris Rodgers. “Many consumers do not know how much they pay for fish protection, why they pay, or whether they’re paying for them at all. At a time when energy costs are increasing, consumers have a right to know where their money is being spent. Once consumers receive access to this information, they can make informed decisions on whether their money is being spent appropriately and effectively.”

A court-mandated spill in 2004 helped make the Bonneville Power Administration the federal agency with the highest ESA compliance costs in the nation. According to the Washington Post, Judge Redden’s 2004 summer spill amounted to spending $3.85 million for each protected Chinook salmon. BPA estimates that they have spent approximately $500 million annually on ESA-related compliance costs in recent years. By law, the agency passes on all of these costs to its wholesale customers, who in turn forward the costs on to the retail electricity consumer.

A May 2005 poll found that 70 percent of respondents either didn’t know how much they paid for salmon recovery or believe that less than 5 percent of their monthly bills go to salmon recovery. Yet, in 2004, the ESA components of BPA’s fish and wildlife program comprised approximately 23 percent of the agency’s wholesale rates.

Original co-sponsors of the bill include Walter Jones (NC), Barbara Cubin (WY), Devin Nunes (CA), Doc Hastings (WA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Ken Calvert (CA), Henry Brown (SC), Greg Walden (OR), Dennis Rehberg (MT), Rick Renzi (AZ), Steve Pearce (NM), and Bill Sali (ID).

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