Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords
Hearing on the Endangered Species Act
Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Thank you, Chairman Chafee, for holding this first in a series of hearings on the Endangered Species Act. As you chair your first hearing of this Subcommittee, I want you to know how pleased I am that you are leading our work on the Endangered Species Act, as well as water infrastructure, water quality and wetlands protection. Under your thoughtful leadership, I am certain that working together we can find solutions to these problems. You and the ranking member of the Subcommittee, Senator Clinton, will make a great team in guiding us as we consider ESA and other issues to come before the Subcommittee during this Congress. I hope you are not tired of hearing this, but your father was not only a champion when it came to preserving and protecting our environment, he was a person I was privileged to call a friend. I know he is looking down on you today with great pride. Thirty-two years ago, the Endangered Species Act was enacted to prevent extinction, the final doom of a species. For the first time, our nation listed the species in danger of extinction and took steps to protect the diversity of life with which we have been blessed. 1,826 species have been listed as threatened or endangered. The good news is that only nine of these species has since gone extinct. While the permanent loss of nine species is nine too many, more than 1,800 species protected makes the Endangered Species Act one of our most successful conservation measures. By formally recognizing that a species is in trouble, and also protecting that species, the Act can be the deciding factor in the fate of that species. In the face of continued threats of extinction, we need protections to remain in place. One of the success stories of the Endangered Species Act is the peregrine falcon. One of the first species listed under the Act thirty years ago, the peregrine falcon, is a great example of how the protections of the Act have worked. The falcon was delisted from the national list in 1999. In my home state of Vermont, after finding 29 pair of peregrine falcons, the state has proposed the delisting of the falcon this year. Endangered Species Act protections, along with the banning of DDT, helped rescue this bird from extinction. Ninety-nine percent of listed species have been protected from extinction. Ninety-nine percent is pretty close to perfect, a great percentage. So, if the Act is achieving its goals, why are we here today? We are here because we are responsible for overseeing the programs that this Subcommittee has jurisdiction over, and to hear from the witnesses on the status of these programs and recommendations to improve them. I also want to welcome all of our witnesses here today, especially our colleague and former chair of this subcommittee, Senator Crapo. I know he has been interested in the Endangered Species Act for a long time, and I look forward to hearing from him today.