New legislation introduced in the Senate aims to ensure that local parties be included in the controversial closed-door settlements between environmental groups and the Obama administration over the Endangered Species Act.
Minority Whip John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) Endangered Species Act (ESA) Settlement Reform Act follows a 2011 settlement between the Fish and Wildlife Service and two environmental groups that resulted in a “work plan” for the agency to make endangered species list determinations for hundreds of species.
“ESA litigation abuse has shut out those folks most affected by the kind of closed-door settlements we’ve seen,” Cornyn said. “My bill opens up the process to give job creators and local officials a say.”
The bill would preserve Fish and Wildlife’s regulatory authority while giving local government and stakeholders a say in ESA settlements that affect them and limiting taxpayer dollars to settle such suits.
The settlement with the environmental groups required taxpayers to pick up the plaintiffs’ litigation tab.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), David Vitter (R-La.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).