House Approves Endangered Species Act Reform Legislation
On September 29, 2005, the House of Representatives voted 229 to 193 on passage of H.R. 3824, the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (TESRA) of 2005, a bill to update and improve the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. AGC supported the passage of the legislation.
Proponents of reform have argued that the ESA has failed to achieve its purpose of recovering endangered species. Since 1973, less than one percent (10 of about 1,300 listed species) has recovered and only six percent of all listed species are classified as “improving.” Instead, implementation of the ESA has caused unintended conflict with landowners and local communities, as well as endless bureaucracy and litigation.
TESRA attempts to address these concerns by focusing limited resources towards actual species recovery efforts rather than on bureaucracy and litigation. For example, the bill provides incentives for voluntary conservation efforts, replaces the “critical habitat” program with a more integrated recovery planning process, requires and defines “best available scientific data” to identify and protect threatened and endangered species, and improves consultation processes with public and private stakeholders. In addition, the bill allows property owners to request a written determination from the Secretary of the Interior as to whether their land use activities will violate the “take” prohibitions of the ESA. If the Secretary determines that such use is a take, the bill provides for private property owners to receive compensation for the fair market value of the foregone use.
Compliance with the ESA has led to lengthy delays in the delivery of important construction projects. By clarifying and updating the process for reviewing a project’s impact on a listed species, TESRA would make significant progress towards reducing these unnecessary delays.
Prior to the House vote on TESRA, AGC joined several national real estate and development organizations, including the American Resort Development Association; Building Owners and Managers Association; International Council of Shopping Centers; National Association of Industrial and Office Properties; National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts; National Association of Realtors; and the Real Estate Roundtable in a letter to express strong support for the bill.
H.R. 3824 has been referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The Committee has not announced a schedule for consideration of the bill.
For more information on ESA issues or H.R. 3824, please e-mail Karen Bachman or call at (202) 547-4733.
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