Olson Introduces Bill to Give Flexibility on ESA Listings
Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today introduced a bill to bring common sense and flexibility to how the government handles listing of species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and end their role as a weapon that forces settlements on the federal government. The Olson bill, H.R. 2134, the Listing Reform Act would end arbitrary deadlines that limit the Department of Interior's ability to properly prioritize petitions for listing a species.
Current law allows the federal government to defer listing species where protection could be warranted, but are overshadowed by higher priorities. This flexibility should be explicitly extended to factor the high cost of listing a species if the species is not yet endangered.
"For far too long, environmentalists and opponents of development have exploited the ESA - using a marginally threatened species to halt development - many times at great expense to the taxpayer," Rep. Olson said. "While we should do what we can to protect truly endangered species, it should be done in a practical way. The government should have the flexibility to act as quickly as it practically can on listing and delisting petitions. Part of this shift from impossible deadlines will allow the federal government to â€œtriageâ€ listing petitions as needed. Like a hospital emergency room, the most endangered species should move to the front of the line. My bill gives the government needed flexibility to achieve this goal."
Under ESA, any organization can petition that a species be listed (or delisted) as â€œendangeredâ€ or â€œthreatenedâ€ and thus eligible for special protections. The current process does not allow federal agencies to prioritize these listings by targeting the most endangered species first. Federal, state and local entities responsible for implementing ESA have limited resources and should have flexibility in the listing process.
Media Contact: Melissa Kelly