U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, today released a response from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), regarding closed-door settlement agreements between FWS, the Center for Biological Diversity, and WildEarth Guardians that will lead to the final listing determinations for more than 250 species over the next six years. The FWS continues to hide documents related to their settlement agreements.

"There's been an awful lot of controversy surrounding the Administration's decision to enter a closed-door settlement agreement that could put 250 new species on the endangered species list. This response only furthers the suspicion that the secret settlement may have been irrational at best and nefarious at worst," Vitter said. "One way or another we're going to get the information on these agreements that have already put a significant number of private property owners' rights at risk. FWS is attempting to create a brand new loophole to keep their settlements secret from the public and from Congress, but I'd like to remind them of the commitment to be the most transparent administration in history."

In June 2013, Vitter along with Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.), sent a letter to FWS Director Daniel Ashe, following up on two letters requesting information on the 2011 closed-door settlement agreements. Read their letter here.

Of the 250 species listings that could occur as a result of the 2011 closed-door settlements, many could have a significant impact on states and local governments, private property rights, energy development, and economic growth.

EPW Republicans are investigating the "sue and settle" technique that the Administration, including the FWS and EPA, uses to advance its extreme environmental agenda. The investigation has revealed that far-left environmental groups will sue the federal government claiming that the government is not satisfying its regulatory obligations. Then behind closed doors, the groups, and Administration officials will draft a settlement agreement without consulting affected parties, including states and counties where the alleged problems are occurring. Once a judge approves the settlement, the Administration will move forward with implementing costly regulations that had been privately agreed upon with those far-left environmental groups.

Earlier this year, Vitter wrote an opinion editorial about the hidden costs of the Endangered Species Act. Click here to read his op-ed. Additionally, click here to read a column in the Times Picayune about a sue and settle agreement over the Mississippi Gopher Frog that particularly affects a land owner in St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana.

Click here to read the FWS response to the multiple requests from EPW Republicans.