Endangered Species Act needs fixing, not scrapping
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard from a variety of witnesses on Wednesday that the Endangered Species Act, now more than 40 years old, still provides an important function, but agreed it needs to be modernized.
The initial witness, David Freudenthal, governor of Wyoming from 2003-2011 and a U.S. attorney under President Bill Clinton, told lawmakers that the “original groundbreaking legislation” signed into law by Richard Nixon, granted broad authority to the executive branch. But over time, he said in prepared testimony, “the mix of regulations, court decisions, policy guidance and individual agency actions by presidential administrations of differing but still-well intentioned views have created a nearly unworkable system.” Or, as he said from the witness table, “the mechanism, by and large, has sand in the gears.”
He said that it is presently too easy for parties to petition for a species to be listed for protection under the ESA and that, as a result, the system is “flooded.”
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