White House reveals plan to streamline Endangered Species Actby Hugh Holub on May. 27, 2011, under environment water and energy, politics
From the White House May 25, 2011:
Earlier this year, President Obama outlined his plan to create a 21st-century regulatory system – one protects public health and welfare while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation. His Executive Order on Regulation, in short, said the following: Always consider costs and ways to reduce burdens for American businesses when developing rules; expand opportunities for public participation and public comment; and ensure that regulations are driven by real science.
The President also called for an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations already on the books. As a result of that review, more than two dozen agencies have identified initiatives to reduce burdens and save money. Read the agency plans and share your comments, feedback and questions.
The Department of the Interior is reviewing outdated regulations under the Endangered Species Act to streamline the process, to reduce requirements for written descriptions, and to clarify and expedite procedures for approval of conservation agreements.
Endangered Species Act Rules (FWS)
–Numerous public comments identified the Endangered Species Act implementing regulations as strong candidates for retrospective review. Many of these regulations, most of which the Fish and Wildlife Service jointly administers with the National Marine Fisheries Service, have not been updated since the 1970s or 1980s and have been subject to extensive litigation. The two Services have identified key areas in these regulations and associated policies where there is both a need and opportunity for improving administration of the Endangered Species Act. With input from the regulated, conservation, and other stakeholder communities, the following changes to the ESA implementing regulations or policies will improve conservation effectiveness, reduce administrative burden, enhance clarity and consistency for impacted stakeholders and agency staff, and encourage partnerships, innovation, and cooperation:
o Minimize requirements for written descriptions of critical habitat boundaries in favor of map- and internet-based descriptions. Map- and internet-based descriptions are clearer and more accessible methods of showing critical habitat boundaries. Additionally, reducing written boundary description requirements will save taxpayer money.
o Clarify, expedite, and improve procedures for the development and approval of conservation agreements with landowners, including habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, and candidate conservation agreements.
o Expand opportunities for the states to engage more often and more effectively in the implementation of the ESA’s various provisions, especially those pertaining to the listing of species.
o Review and revise the process for designating critical habitat to design a more efficient, defensible, and consistent process.
o Clarify the definition of the phrase “destruction or adverse modification” of critical habitat, which is used to determine what actions can and cannot be conducted in critical habitat.
o Clarify the scope and content of the incidental take statement, particularly with regard to programmatic actions or other actions where direct measurement is difficult. An incidental take statement is a component of a biological opinion that specifies the impact of an incidental taking of an endangered or threatened species and provides reasonable and prudent measures that are necessary to minimize those impacts. Greater flexibility in the quantification of anticipated incidental taking could reduce the burden of developing and implementing biological opinions without any loss of conservation benefits.
o Working through an interagency workgroup of senior policy leaders from FWS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationand the Environmental Protection Agency, craft a multi-faceted strategy to address the challenge of the conservation of endangered species and the administration of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). One major element of this effort is to address core scientific issues underlying the effective integration of FIFRA and ESA responsibilities.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Hastings Statement on the Obama Administration’s Endangered Species Act Announcement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement regarding announcement of the Administration’s efforts to make administrative changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over the ESA:
“The Obama Administration is admitting that the ESA is failing to truly recover endangered species while it frequently hamstrings jobs and economic prosperity. The Act hasn’t been reauthorized in over twenty years, since 1988, and it’s clearly in need of improvement. However, the Obama Administration appears to purposefully be launching a substantial, unilateral rewrite of regulations. Instead of choosing to exercise bureaucratic fiat, the Obama Administration should sit down and work with impacted communities and their elected representatives in Congress to enact improvements to the law that will actually bring species to recovery, end the debilitating costly lawsuits, and utilize strong science to guide decisions in order to protect jobs and the livelihoods of rural Americans.”
The Endangered Species Act series of articles:
Background info on Endangered Species Act:
News about litigious environment group activities: