ESA Revision Proposal

Report released today by a group of House Republicans for updating the Endangered Species Act:

Endangered Species Act Working Group

From the report:

This Report summarizes the findings of the Working Group and answers key questions related to those findings. The Report acknowledges the continued need for the ESA, but recommends constructive changes in the following categories:

* Ensuring Greater Transparency and Prioritization of ESA with a Focus on Species Recovery and De-Listing
* Reducing ESA Litigation and Encouraging Settlement Reform
* Empowering States, Tribes, Local Governments and Private Landowners on ESA Decisions Affecting Them and Their Property
* Requiring More Transparency and Accountability of ESA Data and Science

10 Comments

  1. From the political geniuses who brought you Forty-Five Pointless Votes To Repeal Obamacare and A Two-Week Government Shutdown, it’s another fantastically-impossible right-wing talking point, Gut The Endangered Species Act!

  2. You know . . . it would be refreshing if everyone would take the time to read the working group’s report BEFORE concluding that the report is an effort to gut the ESA. How do you know if it’s “. . . another fantastically-impossible right-wing talking point,” unless you actually READ it?

    . . . And when you read it, I, for one, would very much appreciate it if you have let us know what you find objectionable and why. I think you are also going to find some things you can agree with, and it would be nice if you would also take the time to let us know what they are and what you like about them.

    We should all be displaying integrity, interest in the political processes where policy issues are being debated, and promoting reasoned discussion about the points raised.

  3. The political test of the ESA is upon us in the West. 37 million souls in California dependent upon water from elsewhere, and all of elsewhere mired in super serious drought, the reservoirs empty, streams running very low, no rain of account for months and years, little snow in the Sierras or the coast ranges, and spring in their growing season is upon them. Domestic potable use is slowly being curtailed as to non essential uses (filling pools, watering lawns, washing cars, et al), and the water supply still shrinks daily. All of business and industry is affected. All persons are affected. Fewer and fewer farm acres are being planted due to no available irrigation water. Truly a crisis is upon California agriculture.

    The fish issues of San Francisco Bay, and the entirety of the fish bearing watersheds that flow into The Bay (or did at one time) have myriad ESA restrictions and species listings, now. Water from rivers that flow into the ocean north of SF Bay have been partially diverted south to Bay Area potable and ag use since at least 1928 (S.Fork Eel River). The Klamath River’s major, cold water tributary is the North Fork Trinity, 68% of its annual flow diverted to the Sacramento River from Trinity Reservoir and then flows or is pumped to the desert coastal rain shadow Westlands Irrigation District, which sued in Federal Court in August 2013 to stop the US BurRec from putting cold Trinity Reservoir water down to the lower Klamath River to cool the waters for a large run of returning chinook salmon. WID truly believes irrigation takes precedence over ESA, over tribal treaty rights. The injunction was removed and the water released into the Trinity after the Treaty Tribes made their case for salmon, for their cultural survival, and then pointedly noted the recent adjudication of the Klamath Watershed in Oregon that declared the first water right of the Klamath Watershed, is held by the Klamath Treaty Tribes. The Hoopa Tribes and the Tribes of the lower Trinty River indicated that a revisit of the Treaty agreement to allow Trinity Reservoir water to be conveyed to the Westlands I.D. easily could be in order, noting the Klamath adjudication decision. Both the Eel River and the Russian River have been partially diverted to the Bay Area for Napa Valley irrigation and potable use, and to Marin county for potable use. LIttle fresh water is allowed to enter SF Bay, or the ocean in summer on the CA coast. ESA issues with endangered and threatened species abound.

    The ESA issues are under attack by CA Big Ag and all other CA ag interests, plus the cities and the human population in their need for potable water. That is the driving force in ESA reform. 50+ members of the House from CA is a powerful force in the Congress, whether they be Republican or Democrat. That old saying about “whiskey is for drinkin’, and water for fightin'” might well play out in the ESA arena this year and next. I think the issue easily crosses party lines if you are a legislator or in Congress and want to be re-elected come November. The Obama Administration has the inclination, with the President’s pen willing to sign orders circumventing Congress, and the ESA, to gain Democrat voters for the upcoming midterm election. To disregard ESA mandates and administrative rules for the benefit of gaining voters is not beyond the pale of this Administration’s political bent. We will be living in interesting times until we have significant moisture and the droughts are broken. The Administration lives by the creed of “never let a crisis go to waste.” The Rule of Law will be tested. ESA proponents are in for a fight with rural Democrats over the ESA and access to water now designated “critical habitat.” Jobs and livelihoods vs. Environmental NGOs. This is the “big test” for the ESA. Everyone will be watching, learning.

    • California agriculture doesn’t wag the dog anymore. It’s increasingly realized how small a percentage of the state’s economy it really is, and how dominated by major corporations it really is. Until Big Agribusiness takes major steps to reduce its incredibly profligate water use, there won’t be much sympathy from urban water users.

      Frankly, there is absolutely no reason that taxpayers should be subsidizing water transport for the production of low-value commodity crops that can be grown in many other places without hauling the water 300 miles. California agriculture can and should be downscaled and refocused on high-value crops. The state is largely arid and it makes absolutely no sense to flood-irrigate rice paddies with Sierra Nevada snowmelt.

      • Small part of the economy that feeds one heck of a lot of people. Only one percent of Americans feed the rest of us, and if they can’t — we’ll be learning the real price of water.

        • OK, but if feeding “one heck of a lot of people” based on irrigated agriculture in a semi-desert is not sustainable (and it is not), then what?

          Just because we’re currently doing something doesn’t mean we can keep doing that same thing indefinitely.

    • There really aren’t any exclusively-rural Democratic seats in California, John, so this issue won’t really cross party lines in any significant manner. The mechanizing of agriculture, and the increasing reliance on low-wage/migrant labor, means that the actual bloc of people who vote based on agricultural issues in the state is rapidly shrinking.

      The theme of this debate, as with so many environmental debates, is a theme of limits. California has literally found the hard limit of its water resources. Every river is substantially tapped, every aquifer has been completely drained. That’s all there is and there ain’t no more. Unless you’re willing to effectively completely dry up rivers and eradicate every inland fishery in the state for the sake of human growth. Then what happens when you use up all that water?

      The current scale of agriculture in California is not sustainable. Full stop.

      “Growth for growth’s sake is the ideology of the cancer cell,” spake Abbey.

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