Congressman Randy Neugebauer has introduced two bills to reform the Endangered Species Act, in response to a recent ruling that declared the Lesser Prairie Chicken to be an endangered species.
Neugebauer explained his position in the following statement:
Last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). I'm frustrated and disappointed by this listing, which will have far-reaching consequences in West Texas.
The timing of this decision is being driven by activist lawsuits, instead of what's best for the species and the communities near its habitat. What's worse is that this listing is unnecessary. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' Range-Wide Conservation Plan - an unprecedented collaboration between farmers, ranchers, energy producers, and governments across five states - would have successfully conserved habitat and fully recovered the species.
But instead of cooperative conservation, we're getting more Washington-Knows-Best regulations. Decisions like this will discourage innovative conservation efforts in the private sector, and ultimately do more harm than good.
The decision to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken was caused, in part, by problems with the Endangered Species Act itself. It's costly and bureaucratic, and only about 2% of species listed under the Act have ever recovered enough to be delisted. It's time for reform.
That's why I introduced two bills last week which would improve the ESA to make it more effective and prevent unnecessary listings like this in the future. H.R. 4284, the ESA Improvement Act, empowers states to protect and restore species and prevent listings by requiring FWS to involve them in the process before a listing is proposed. H.R. 4317, the State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act, requires FWS to provide states with the data they are using to justify their listing decisions. Additionally, it requires FWS to consider scientific data submitted by state and local governments before making a determination.
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