ESA update

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1995:
Slade Gorton (R-Wash.), with co-sponsors
Bennett Johnston (D-La.), and Richard Shelby
(R-Ala.), on May 9 introduced the first of three
expected Republican drafts of a revised
Endangered Species Act. Largely authored by
timber industry lobbyists, the Gorton bill would
end the federal obligation to try to save all
endangered species. Instead the Secretary of the
Interior would be allowed to rule that a species
should go extinct. The bill would also lump
together captive and wild animals in counting
populations, meaning for instance that hatchery-
bred salmon, with little ability to survive in the
ocean, would count toward meeting the conser-
vation goals of endangered runs. In addition, the
bill would virtually preclude the designation of
protected critical habitat, and require taxpayers
to cover costs of routine corporate compliance.

An amendment added to a supplemen-
tal defense appropriation bill in April by Senator
Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Tex.), quietly signed
by President Bill Clinton, already bars the desig-
nation of new endangered species and critical
habitat pending passage of a reauthorized ESA.
Also affecting endangered species, the
House Resources Committee on May 10 held a
mark-up session on HR 260, the National Park
System Reform Act, which would set up a polit-
ically appointed panel to identify sites for
removal from the national park system.
According to National Parks and Conservation
Association president Paul Pritchard, as many as
300 of the current 368 national parks could be
affected. At the same session the committee
marked up legislation to reduce the Shenandoah
and Richmond Battlefield parks.
Pending House and Senate budget res-
olutions meanwhile seek to open the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
However, a timber industry attempt to
use a rider to get around spotten owl protection
during salvage logging was thwarted on May 12
when Democrats succeeded in attaching a rider
to the rider obliging salvage loggers to follow
government owl protection rules, regardless of
the status of the ESA.
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