House Natural Resources Hearing on Bringing Much Needed Reforms to the Endangered Species Act

On October 4, the House Natural Resources Committee passed five Republican sponsored bills aimed at modernizing the ESA. Since ESA modernization was a 2017 NPMA Legislative Day issue, members of the NPMA Public Policy Team attended this important hearing. This issue is critical because activists are using the ESA as a mechanism to ban or restrict pesticides, and only one percent of endangered species have been delisted or recovered; therefore the need to reform this broken law is urgent. While all five pieces of legislation that were passed out of committee are relevant and important, HR 717, HR 1274, and HR 3131 are the most impactful regarding the structural pest management industry.

HR 717 is sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and would remove the current 90-day and 12-month deadlines for species listing decisions. These deadlines are often used by activists to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) in order to force a determination of a species. The activists make it increasingly difficult for the FWS to protect threatened and endangered species because their deluge of lawsuits causes the FWS to transfer resources from conservation to litigation.

HR 1274, sponsored by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), would amend the Endangered Species Act to require the availability of data used as a basis for listing and critical habitat determinations to the impacted states. This legislation would bring added transparency and give industry, state, and local governments a seat at the table. NPMA applauds this form of cooperative federalism that brings governmental decision-making closer to the people.

HR 3131 would require ESA litigants to abide by the same rules as others bringing a suit against the federal government, requiring plaintiffs to prevail in order to collect attorneys’ fees, as well as impose the $125 fee cap set by the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).

The NPMA Public Policy Team will continue our engagement and keep members apprised of developments.