Senators Say Endangered Species Law Must Be Considered For Proposed NSPS for Power Plants
Administration has used Endangered Species Act in closed-door “sue and settle” agreements when it benefits their agenda, reluctant to consider it when it may slow down their climate agenda
March 6, 2014

Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), regarding the agencies' actions in moving forward with the recently proposed greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for power plants and the varying impacts on federal and private lands, as well as threatened and endangered species.

"In their zeal to fulfill the goals of the President's Climate Action Plan, EPA and the Fish & Wildlife Service may be tempted to overlook the existing protections for the environment embodied in the ESA," wrote the Senators. "Their failure to appropriately conduct an ESA consultation would lead to dire results for protected species and their habitat."

The ESA requires consultation for any action that "may affect" a listed species or designated critical habitat. Currently, the EPA and the FWS have not confirmed whether an ESA consultation is occurring for the NSPS for power plants. During last week's EPW Subcommittee on Oversight hearing, Ashe confirmed that an agency "has an obligation" to consult on known impacts to a listed species or designated critical habitat.

Click here to watch Sen. Vitter question FWS Director Dan Ashe during last week's EPW Subcommittee hearing


The Administration has shown a willingness to use the ESA to help achieve their political goals. In 2011, the FWS entered into a closed-door "sue and settle" agreement with two environmental groups that could force the listing of more than 250 species as threatened or endangered under the ESA. This could ultimately lead to putting a private citizen's property off-limits to most commercial uses, reducing the property's value.

"The Obama Administration has launched an assault on private property rights through abusive tactics under the ESA," Vitter said. "If they choose to continue manipulating the law to benefit their political agenda, they must also be consistent even when the ESA would slow them down in other aspects, including the President's Climate Action Plan."

Click here to read an op-ed by Sen. Vitter regarding the Administration's abuse of the ESA that was published on the fortieth anniversary of it becoming law.

Click here to read the Senators' letter.

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