the film
Commentaries and editorials

Cost of Endangered Species Act
Must be Weighed

by Cathy Cash
Electric Co-op Today, June 2, 2014

Republican Rep. Doc Hastings from Washington state, 'When people try to characterize me as being against the environment, I honestly have to shake my head.' Curtis Q. Warner, director of compliance and support for AECC, testified on the need for what he called "common sense" reform of the ESA before the House Natural Resources Committee in a field hearing in Batesville, Ark., May 14.

"Capturing the real costs of a critical habitat designation is paramount to this reform effort," he told the committee. "However, in order to capture the real costs, you have to get the methodology correct."

That's where a bill from Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., comes in. The legislation would improve the current process by requiring the federal agencies responsible for implementing the law to examine both the "incremental and cumulative" effects of "all actions to protect the species and its habitat," Warner said.

It also would expand the scope of the local and state areas that should be analyzed for impacts from a species listing or designation. The analysis would include public and private economic effects on land and property values.

The bill also calls for examining how power, water and other public services, employments and state and local revenues can be affected by a listing or designation.

"This economic analysis needs to include the real costs of a critical habitat designation, not just the costs that government agencies incur to administer an ever increasing bureaucracy," Warner told the lawmakers. "Requiring a real economic analysis and having it available for public review is a very important benefit of the Crawford bill that will give transparency to the process, and AECC supports this idea."

Warner cautioned committee members that although Arkansas has dealt with several species listings, based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's work plan, "every state in the nation will be affected by at least one ESA listing decision in the next five years."

As a board member of the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition, NRECA has been working with Congress on behalf of co-ops to advance a package of bills to update the ESA.

Four bills aimed at modernizing the 1973 law, increasing its transparency and reducing its financial burden on co-ops, cleared the committee chaired by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., on April 30 and await consideration by the full House.

Cathy Cash
Cost of Endangered Species Act Must be Weighed
Electric Co-op Today, June 2, 2014

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