By Matthew Freeman, Center for Progressive Reform
Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar (and board member) Rob Glicksman is on Capitol Hill testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on the Interior this afternoon at 2 pm ET. The hearing will focus on “barriers to delisting” of species under the Endangered Species Act.
He’ll cover four major points in his testimony, which he summarizes thusly:
First, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has achieved considerable success in achieving its conservation goals. Second, budgetary constraints have prevented the two agencies that oversee implementation of the statute, the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), from compiling an even better track record. Third, citizen participation in ESA implementation has played an important role in promoting the statute’s goals. Fourth, Congress in 1973 had good reasons for allocating to the federal government the primary responsibility for implementing the ESA (although it also sought to solicit state participation, accommodate state wildlife and water resource policies, and encourage federal-state partnerships), and those reasons remain just as valid today as they were then.
With respect to his second topic — budget constraints on the FWS and NMFS — he says,
For more than 20 years, Congress has funded the ESA through annual appropriations at levels inadequate to enable the FWS to comply with its statutory duties on a timely basis. As one researcher succinctly put it, the “[a]gencies responsible for recovery of listed species are faced with an increasing workload and decreasing resources.” …
Instead of continuing or increasing programs that assist states and private parties in conserving listed species, Congress is cutting or ending these effective programs. For example, Congress has balked at reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund despite overwhelming support from the states. Money from the Fund helps states and federal agencies protect habitat for listed species. The House also voted to cut funds for the Conservation Stewardship Program, which among other things helps farmers protect biodiversity on their land.
You can read Glicksman’s full testimony, here.
The subcommittee will hear from the FWS Director Dan Ashe in a separate hearing tomorrow morning at 9 am.