NRECA Backs Reform
by Cathy Cash
Electric cooperatives support congressional legislation that would update the Endangered Species Act by requiring a balance between economic growth and sound, unbiased science, NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson told key lawmakers.
"Electric cooperatives support reforms to make the ESA more efficient, effective and less costly, with the goal of finding a balance that accommodates essential economic activities," Emerson said in an April 24 letter to the House Committee on Natural Resources leadership.
"Electric cooperatives believe that to ensure fair and sensible application of the ESA, scientific information must be thorough, balanced and based on scientific standards and impartial peer review," Emerson wrote. "The package of ESA legislation under consideration by the committee meets these important objectives."
The committee, chaired by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., on April 30 will vote on four bills aimed at reforming the Endangered Species Act. NRECA is backing the legislation as a means to improve and modernize the 1973 law that has caused financial stress for co-ops with territories in the range of listed species.
The legislation stems from a Republican working group led by Hastings and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., which released a report in February. The report drew from testimony of Carl Albrecht, CEO of Garkane Energy in Loa, Utah, who told the committee how compliance to protect prairie dogs and sage grouse delayed a power line by seven years and cost $2 million.
NRECA is concerned that the listing of a species can hamper co-ops' ability to site and maintain power lines. In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the lesser prairie chicken as "threatened" under the ESA, a decision Emerson said would "impose heavy burdens on cooperatives at a time when many local economies are still struggling."
Irrigators Ask Governors to Convene God Squad over ESA Salmon Issues by Bill Rudolph, NW Fishletter, 4/24/14
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