On Thursday, March 27, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04), Rep. Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming-at large), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), and Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI-02) introduced four limited bills to improve and update the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bills are supported by all of the Members of the ESA Congressional Working Group, representing districts across the nation, and are based on the recommendations and findings of their report and input from a broad array of stakeholders, including the Western Governors’ Association. The four bills focus on transparency and species recovery.
- H.R. 4315 (Hastings) , 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act
- H.R. 4316 (Lummis), Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act
- H.R. 4317 (Neugebauer), State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act
- H.R. 4318 (Huizenga), Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act
Probably the most significant of these bills is H.R. 4316, which requires the USFS, the BLM, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to disclose at the end of each year all expenditures related to any suit brought against the agency under the Endangered Species Act, who filed the suit, the record of decision, how much it cost the agency to defend against the suit, and how much money was paid to whomever filed the suit.
As astonishing as it is, this information is not disclosed today, and the agencies do not even keep records on it! This is a very important bill to get passed.