Costs Associated with ESA Lawsuits Examined by House Ag Subcommittee
The House Agriculture Conservation, Energy and Forestry Subcommittee held a public hearing on the impact of the Endangered Species Act and related legislation on the U.S. Forest Service. Since the ESA was enacted in 1973 - 15-hundred domestic species have been classified as either threatened or endangered under the Act. Just 28 of those species were delisted as of September 2012. A citizen suit provision of the ESA allows private citizens to sue federal agencies and private landowners for allegedly failing to fully comply with the Act. A recent study in the Journal of Forestry examined 1,125 management cases filed against the Forest service in federal court between 1989 and 2008. The subcommittee members examined the direct and indirect costs associated with the lawsuits and how those lawsuits have diverted budgetary resources away from healthy forest management and interfered with the underlying mission of preserving, protecting and recovering threatened and endangered species. Subcommittee Chair Glenn Thompson says this isn't the first time testimony has been shared with regard to frivolous lawsuits that have delayed or ultimately prevented the Forest Service and private industries from implementing timely and effective management decisions. He says these abusive activities are a significant threat to the health of forests and pose an equal threat to the economic well-being of local communities. It's important - Thompson says - to understand the negative economic effects litigation has on farmers and foresters - and ultimately the species the law aims to protect. His hope is that Wednesday's hearing will provide a roadmap for a bipartisan and comprehensive effort to review, reform and strengthen the underlying Act.
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