By Tim Pearce
The Department of the Interior (DOI) is considering major reforms to the way endangered species fall under federal protection and the lengths to which that protection extends, The Washington Examiner reports.
Among other, less significant reforms, the DOI is pursuing changes to sections 4 and 7 of the Endangered Species Act, which dictate how a species qualifies for federal protection, the extent to which that protection extends and how federal agencies gauge the impact of certain activities on the species.
The DOI is placing a larger emphasis on the economic impact at all levels of Endangered Species Act protection, while applying stricter standards to scientific analysis of the impact development will have on critical habitat and the animals within it, Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Rob Gordon told The Washington Examiner.
GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah is pressuring Congress to reform law. Similar to Interior’s proposed changes, Bishop is pushing laws to require economic impact studies for considerations alongside scientific ones. Bishop also wants to give states an enhanced role in making decisions between development and habitat, and allow them to regulate human activity on critical habitat rather than forbid it completely.
Bishop also has his sights on environmental groups and activists that engage in regular lawsuits against the federal government to postpone or reverse decisions made concerning federally protected species and the Endangered Species Act.
The Endangered Species Act is either seen as a huge success or abject failure, and few have a stance somewhere in between. Proponents claim that the law has saved 99 percent of species protected from extinction. Opponents counter, saying the law’s real goal is recovery and, so far, less than 1 percent of listed species have actually recovered enough to be delisted.