Congressmen Seeking Big Changes in Endangered Species Act
SACRAMENTO, Calif. A group of congressmen proposed bipartisan legislation Monday to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, a measure that environmental groups say would gut the landmark 1973 law.
Richard Pombo, R-Calif., chairman of the House Resources Committee, scheduled a hearing Wednesday on the measure. He and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., argued that it is time to return to the original goal of the act -- increasing threatened or endangered species' populations to the point that they can be removed from the list.
The bill was unveiled at a Sacramento news conference at the same time it was introduced in Washington. The congressmen said the announcement far from the nation's capital was intended to show the proposed law would return more control to state and local governments.
In all, six Democrats and eight Republicans -- from Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and Wyoming -- signed on as original co-sponsors of the bill.
The bill would require the government to compensate property owners at fair market value for losses that result from protecting endangered species. If compensation is not paid, the government could not enforce the act.
Environmental groups said that provision would be so expensive it would make the law useless.
Pombo's committee passed two bills last year to amend the law, but neither got a vote on the House floor.
Source: Associated Press