From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:

WASHINGTON D.C.––Both the House
and Senate on March 16 approved in principle a
proposal to impose a moratorium on adding species
to the federal endangered species list, pending
amendment of the Endangered Species Act. The
measure would also prohibit new critical habitat
designations for species already declared endan-
gered. A Senate motion to reject the moratorium
failed, 60-38.
Details of the moratorium will have to be
worked out in conference committee and ratified by
both houses before going to President Bill Clinton
for either his signature or veto. Allowing the mora-
torium to stand could alienate Clinton’s remaining
supporters, while vetoing it would be seen as disre-
gard for property rights––the central theme of the
Republican “Contract with America.”

The Republican-controlled Congress has
pledged to substantially revise or dismantle the
ESA by June. “Number one will be a revision of
the ESA,” House Resources Committee chair Don
Young (R-Alaska) recently affirmed. Young, who
threatened U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service head
Mollie Beatty with a seal’s penis bone during
Congressional hearings last spring, is co-chair of
the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus and a long-
time proponent of opening the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.
Already adopted by the House are two
bills that could significantly weaken enforcement of
the ESA, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and
the Animal Welfare Act. The Risk Assessment and
Cost-Benefit Act of 1995 requires several addition-
al steps before new regulations can be adopted.
During the month of discussion that preceded the
consolidation of several draft bills into the one that
was passed, International Wildlife Coalition senior
scientist David Wiley predicted that imposition of
the cost-benefit requirement could, “mean the end
of the newly reauthorized MMPA,” passed by the
previous Congress, “because almost no regulations
exist for its implementation. Mandated planning to
reduce death and injury to marine mammals in fish-
ing gear can proceed,” he said, “but recommenda-
tions cannot be implemented unless we can show
that the monetary value of the animals saved
exceeds the costs to the fishing industry.”
The other bill passed by the House, the
Private Property Protection Act, requires the gov-

ernment to compensate landowners if a federal
action to protect wetlands or endangered species
reduces their property value by at least 20%. This
could put the price of protecting species such as
spotted owls, endangered salmon and steelhead
runs in the Pacific Northwest, and the Delta smelt
in California beyond contemplation.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
National Marine Fisheries Service dodged a similar
conflict in New England on March 14 by rejecting
Restore the North Woods’ petition to list the
Atlantic salmon as endangered.
Hoping to save key provisions of the
ESA during Senate debate, and to keep enough
support for the ESA in both houses to enable
Clinton to veto unacceptable changes, Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt on March 1 announced a
plan to encourage landowners to maintain habitat
for endangered species without obliging them to
give up development rights. Landowners would be
allowed to opt out with advance notice to the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. The plan is to be tested
through an agreement with the Pinehurst Resort
and Country Club in the Sandhills region of North
Carolina, whose golf courses are part of the habi-
tat of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
Five days later, Babbit and Undersecre-
tary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Dr.
D. James Baker presented a set of 10 principles for
future ESA enforcement that would include gener-
al exemptions for single-home residential tracts
and other activities affecting under five
acres––which just could encourage developers in
sensitive areas to sell lots before building.
Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.