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Bill Would Protect Texans Against Burdensome Endangered Species Settlements

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January 28, 2015 | 1,799 views | Post a comment

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. 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). Cornyn fought for similar legislation during previous sessions of Congress.

“There must be a balance to ensure Washington bureaucrats don’t run roughshod over Texas landowners and job creators. This bill gives states and counties facing regulation a seat at the table with the FWS and special interest groups in ESA settlement negotiations.”

Cornyn’s bill adds protection for Texans and all Americans from the burdensome regulatory impact of closed-door litigation settlements between special interest groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Representative Bill Flores (R-Bryan) has introduced a companion bill to the Endangered Species Settlement Reform Act in the House of Representatives.

Background on ESA Settlement Reform Act

The ESA Settlement Reform Act:

Applies to certain ESA “citizen suits” that are driving the litigation and mega-settlements.

Gives local government and stakeholders a say in ESA settlements that affect them.

Limits the use of taxpayer dollars to fund ESA “citizen suits.”

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.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is the Senate Republican Whip, and a member of the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees.
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