ESA says SOS
February 10 - Washington DC - A new approach to improve and update the Endangered Species Act was presented at a news conference today with House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-California) and Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon), along with Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island), the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water. The members signaled the start of a House-Senate partnership approach to addressing the issue.
“The ESA desperately needs an update and a renewed focus on species recovery,” Chairman Pombo said. “Its one-percent recovery result over the past thirty years has failed to lived up to the Act's noble intent and our intrinsic values as Americans. These are vital statistics that no individual can support. As such, I am eager to continue the work that is being done between our chambers and optimistic that we can breathe new life into this law for the 21st century.”
“The Endangered Species Act is one of our most important laws and Congress will soon begin seeing proposals concerning it,” said Senator Crapo. “We have agreed to work together with bill sponsors and I am determined to achieve this ESA improvement with bipartisan support for a consistent approach in both chambers. Our goal is to strengthen the ESA by improving habitat conservation and recovery, providing more and better incentives, and enhancing the role of states where appropriate. Overall, we believe the ESA can be less contentious and more effective.”
I think Chafee is a pretty reasonable guy, but I also think he might get rolled by the other three. The language about the poor recovery rate is obviously their talking point. And their solution? Better incentives and increasing the role of states will not promote habitat conservation and recovery. Letting federal scientists do their jobs would though. Incentives are nice, but enforcement and verification come first. You can't browbeat the enforcers and then use incentives to delegate responsibility to landowners and delegate other enforcement to the states.
I've said it before, but animals don't care about state boundaries. Management has to be holistic, not not a patchwork.
If they are really interested in recovery, they need to establish habitat based protections, and set targets for the protection and creation of new areas of endangered habitats. The species they claim to want recovered are not in need of species by species protection, but habitat by habitat conservation.
And really, the judgment of ESA shouldn't be on the number of species recovered, it should be the number of species that have gone extinct once protected. I bet that's a very small number, which is a massive success.
How's that for a division of labor? ESA protects species, and recovery and de-listing happens through ESA and endangered habitat protection and restoration. Just a thought.