Statement of Mike Crapo
Chairman, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water
Hearing on listing and delisting under the Endangered Species Act
May 9, 2001 * 9:30 a.m. * Dirksen 628
Good morning. The Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water will come to order. In today=s hearing we will be examining the listing and delisting processes under the Endangered Species Act.
Since the authorization for the Endangered Species Act expired in 1992, there have been many -- I would hate to hazard a guess with respect to how many B but A LOT of hearings held and A LOT of legislation introduced aimed at both reauthorizing and reforming the ESA. In the course of those hearings, dozens of witnesses from the various interests offered impassioned explanations about the importance of a strong Endangered Species Act and the need to reform it.
From my perspective, both are true. I am extremely concerned about the plight of Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead stocks B so concerned that I proposed a $688 million funding package to recover these fish last week. Extinction of species is not an acceptable outcome, but neither are policies that cause economic hardship or burden private landowners unfairly.
The fact that we have recovered and delisted just 9 U.S. species since the ESA was passed is not a testament to its success. Just 9 species have been recovered B and 3 o f those species were recovered on the Pacific Island of Palau alone. When you take into account the hundreds of millions of dollars the U.S. spends each year in threatened and endangered species protections, something is clearly wrong with this picture.
While I have said that a significant amount of oversight has been conducted on the Endangered Species Act, there are a few areas that have not received adequate attention and are in need of more thorough examination. Listing and delisting are two issues that need to be addressed if we are to resolve some of the shortcomings in the act. It is my hope that by conducting oversight that examines some of the problematic components of the act, we can craft solutions to each of these, which will increase our chances of success in reforming and reauthorizing the Endangered Species Act.
The quantity and quality of science is an issue that comes up again and again. I=ve been Chairman of this Subcommittee for a little more than two years, and, in that short time, I can not think of an issue or a hearing in which the science was not called into question. There must be a better way of getting better science to inform the policy-making process. In addition to the Administration witnesses, there are a number of scientists testifying before the subcommittee today, and I look forward to having a productive discussion on how to improve science, and in turn, policy decisions with respect to conserving species.
I have other serious concerns about the listing and delisting process, but I am more interested in listening and learning from our witnesses who are with us today. I hope that the witness have come to offer fresh ideas about how specifically to resolve issues in the context of listing and delisting. More rhetoric on the Endangered Species Act is not going help bring resolution to what is potentially our nation=s most contentious environmental law.
Before moving along, I would like to note that we elected not to address the issue of critical habitat in this hearing even though it is part of the listing process. It is a significant issue and one that could have consumed the entire hearing. We have focused significant attention on critical habitat in the past, most notably in the 106th Congress when this Committee reported out
S. 1100, which would modified the timing of critical habitat designations. The subcommittee will evaluate the need for critical habitat oversight a bit further down the road.