From: Paul Geary, ENN
Published September 30, 2005 12:00 AM

House "Guts" Endangered Species Act: Defenders of Wildlife

WASHINGTON — Congress "dealt a deadly blow" to the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act, according to the environmentalist group Defenders of Wildlife. Many of the Act's most important protections for plants and animals facing extinction were eliminated by the House's action and new loopholes were created to allow developers to dodge the law, said the organization.

"The Pombo bill is the dream of every irresponsible developer out there," said Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen. "Not only does this bill gut the Endangered Species Act, but it creates a government give away program to greedy developers and provides new loop holes to make it easier to use deadly pesticides that will impact not only wildlife but our children, by polluting our lands and waters," said Schlickeisen.

"Mr. Pombo's bill undermines our national commitment to the recovery of threatened and endangered plants and animals," said Rodger Schlickeisen.

Rep. Pombo's office issued a statement saying: "Born of the best intentions, the ESA has failed to recover endangered species while conflict and litigation have plagued local communities and private property owners alike."

Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) said, “For over thirty years the Endangered Species Act has suffered from many fundamental flaws, the most notable being a blatant disregard for property rights. Chairman Pombo’s bill recognizes that as long as over 90 percent of endangered species are found on private lands, it defies logic not to compensate landowners’ efforts to protect threatened and endangered species. I applaud its passage.”

Defenders of Wildlife outlined what it considered to be the most important aspects of the bill the weaken the Endangered Species Act:

-replaces the current mandatory critical habitat system with a system of purported recovery plans that are discretionary and fail to protect habitat essential for recovery;
-allows federal agencies to avoid consultation, resulting in agencies with little to no experience in wildlife issues deciding if projects will harm wildlife;
-exempts all pesticide decisions from ESA compliance, taking away the ability under the ESA to stop pesticide use even when necessary to prevent extinction;
-requires the federal government to use taxpayer dollars to pay developers for complying with the law, setting no limits on these payments.

"Our children will pay the ultimate price for Mr. Pombo's reckless disregard for the conservation of our nation's wildlife," said Schlickeisen. "Normally, one would look to the Senate to right the wrongs of this bill," said Schlickeisen, "but it is questionable as to whether this bill can be salvaged at all."

Source: PR Newswire, Defenders of Wildlife, Office of Rep. Richard W. Pombo

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