"Endless Stream of Environmental Group Lawsuits Is Major Cause of Its Dysfunction"



Washington, D.C.-Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, released the following statement today in response to reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is running out of funds to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act:


“For far too long, the Endangered Species Act has caused substantial harm to property owners while failing to fulfill its stated purpose: to protect, conserve, and recover endangered species. The act itself has many inherent problems, and the endless stream of ‘critical habitat’ lawsuits filed by environmental groups against the federal government is a serious cause of its dysfunction. As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today, those lawsuits are diverting critical time and resources away from helping species to legal wrangling in the courtroom.


“As Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, I plan to work with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who chairs the subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water, to reform the Endangered Species Act. In particular, under Sen. Crapo’s lead, we will take a very serious look at the effectiveness of critical habit designations.


“According to many observers, critical habitat has not proved conducive to conserving species. In 1999, the Clinton Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service said, ‘In most circumstances, the designation of ‘official’ critical habitat is of little additional value for most listed species.’ Jamie Rappaport Clark, former director of the Clinton Fish and Wildlife Service, said that critical habitat lawsuits have ‘turned our priorities upside down.’ Without substantial reforms, critical habitat designations will continue to harm property owners and could create, as Ms. Clarke said, a ‘biological disaster.’”