WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-5) has voted to support the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act (H.R. 4315).
H.R. 4315 is a package of targeted forms to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that will enhance species recovery and improve government transparency. The bill passed by a vote of 233 to 190.
Thompson, a co-sponsor of the bill, is a member of the ESA Congressional Working Group, which developed the findings and recommendations for the proposal, and a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over the ESA.
“Since its enactment in 1973, the ESA in targeted cases has met its intended goal, but in large part, it has become an impediment to protecting and improving species health.
“Today, endangered species designations lack transparency and adequate protocols to ensure the best science is utilized and that local and state input is fully considered.
“Furthermore, litigation is driving ESA implementation and diverting resources away from species recovery. This is not what Congress intended when the law was initially created.
“H.R. 4315 makes commonsense reforms that will increase litigation and scientific transparency for public and congressional review and expand state involvement in the formulation of federal endangered species listings.”
The 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act would:
· Require data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions to be made publicly available and accessible through the internet, while respecting state data privacy laws and private property.
· Require the federal government to disclose to affected states data used prior to an ESA listing decision and it would require the “best available scientific and commercial data” used by the federal government to incorporate data provided by states, tribes, and local county governments.
· Require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to track, report to Congress, and make available online the federal taxpayer funds used to respond to ESA lawsuits, the number of employees dedicated to ESA litigation, and attorneys’ fees awarded in the course of ESA litigation and settlement agreements.
· Prioritize resources towards species protection and places reasonable caps on government-paid attorneys’ fees for suits filed under the ESA.
For more information on H.R. 4315, click here.