Senator James M. Inhofe, Ranking Member
Committee on Environment and Public Works
A Sub-Committee Legislative Hearing on Various Fish and Wildlife bills
Thursday, December 3, 2009, 2:00pm
Good afternoon. I would like to thank the Subcommittee Chairman for holding this hearing. I welcome the opportunity to examine the merits of the bills before us today. I am, however, concerned about the troublesome precedents some of these bills would create.
The four bills that will we examine today - the Asian Carp, S.1421, Python, S.373, Feral Swine, S.1965 and Nutria Eradication, S.1519 - address the threat posed by particular invasive species to the environment. We must be cautious about new laws that interfere with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s management practices, as they could impose changes to environmental laws with little or no input from other federal agencies. As we chart a course of action to address harmful species, we must be careful to avoid subverting or overturning established processes within the Department of Interior for determining the threat a particular species may have on the environment.
Commonsense reforms are needed to prevent the proliferation, importation or breeding of species that would be harmful to ecosystems, but I am cautious of the precedent of addressing these species outside normal agency channels. Any policy that Congress considers for invasive species should include a reasonable “risk analysis” process with input from states and industry. Unfortunately, some of the bills we are examining today take a different and less effective approach.
With respect to the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, S.1214, I have serious concerns with the portions of the bill that give the federal government the ability to purchase water rights and property. I cannot support such an approach. This should be done through public-private partnerships. Such partnerships can leverage state and local resources as well as preserve private ownership, which together can help conserve more fish habitat. The bill in its current form allows for this, but also gives the Federal government the authority to work unilaterally – a provision I oppose. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address my concerns.
Finally, we will be looking at the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, H.R.3537, and the Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2009, H.R.509. I strongly support the former program and was chair of this committee
when we reauthorized it back in 2006. I also helped create the Marine Turtle Conservation Act
in 2004 with Senator Jeffords. I look forward to discussing both of these bills today, but would like to highlight the successful approach of the turtle bill and other multinational species conservation programs. These programs are successful because they leverage significant non-federal money and work with NGOs to maximize their benefits. For example, the turtle program leverages over a dollar in matching funds for every federal dollar spent. We should refrain from giving the federal government the ability to purchase water rights and land as the Fish Habitat Conservation would allow. This should be done working with property owners— such as the Partnership for Fish and Wildlife Program.