New Cornyn Bill Will Increase Transparency in Endangered Species Listings, Protect Texans from Burdensome Settlements


In: All News   Posted 02/14/2017
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement after introducing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Settlement Reform Act, which would give impacted local parties a voice in the settlement process of ESA litigation between special interest groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

“By giving states, counties, and local landowners a seat at the table, this bill will bring some much-needed transparency to the ESA settlement process. This will ensure Washington bureaucrats can’t run roughshod over Texas landowners and job creators.” 

Background:

Sen. Cornyn fought for similar legislation during previous sessions of Congress.  The ESA Settlement Reform Act would:

  • apply to certain ESA “citizen suits” that are driving the litigation and mega-settlements;
  • give local government and stakeholders a say in ESA settlements that affect them;
  • and limit the use of taxpayer dollars to fund ESA “citizen suits.”

Today Sen. Cornyn also introduced the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act today to require the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to make the best scientific and commercial data publicly available on the internet as it relates to future listings and de-listings under the Endangered Species Act.

In 2011, two environmental groups settled multi-district litigation with the FWS that resulted in a “work plan” for the agency to make endangered species list determinations for hundreds of species. The settlement also required taxpayers to pay the plaintiffs’ litigation fees. The suits were brought against the FWS because it failed to meet certain statutory deadlines after being flooded with requests to list hundreds of species. Closed-door ESA settlements like these not only threaten unwarranted regulation, but give plaintiffs undue leverage over local land owners, businesses and elected officials in the conservation process.

In addition, in 2012 Senator Cornyn successfully blocked U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the sand dune lizard as endangered, working with state and local officials to save potentially thousands of West Texas jobs threatened by the listing.