Update: On Thursday, September 27, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee favorably reported two of the three bills listed below on which Commissioner Sauter testified: H.R. 3608 and H.R. 6345. The committee also advanced H.R. 6346, the WHOLE Act, and H.R. 6355, the PETITION Act, which NACo also supports.
On September 26, Commissioner David Sauter of Klickitat County, Washington testified on behalf of NACo before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in support of three bills that promote federalism and increase transparency under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The testimony took place at 2:00pm on September 26 and can be viewed by clicking here.
The bills discussed by Commissioner Sauter included:
- H.R. 6345, The EMPOWERS Act (Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.)
This legislation would require federal agencies making listing decisions under the ESA to meaningfully consult with state governments before a listing determination is made. It also mandates federal agencies provide an explanation when their decisions diverge from the findings or advice of a state government.
- H.R. 3608, the Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act (Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.)
If enacted, this bill would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to track, report to Congress, and make available online information on ESA lawsuits and attorney payouts from those lawsuits. This bill would also put in place the same $125 per hour cap on attorney’s fees for suits filed under the ESA as for those filed under the Equal Access to Justice Act, and it would require federal agencies to make publicly available the data used for ESA listing decisions through the Internet. Finally, the bill would amend the term “best available scientific and commercial data” to include data provided by affected states, tribes and local governments.
- H.R. 6364, the LAMP Act (Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska)
The LAMP Act would allow the federal government to enter into cooperative management agreements with state and local governments, tribes and non-federal stakeholders to improve endangered species recovery and habitat management. This would make the ESA a more collaborative conservation statute that welcomes the input and expertise of non-federal partners for species and habitat protection.
The hearing covered a total of nine bills, all of which NACo supports.